MISSION VIEJO — A quiet residential neighborhood was rocked Thursday night when a pipe bomb exploded near an elementary school.
No injuries or damage resulted, a sheriff's spokesman said.
The pipe bomb was thrown into a storm drain in front of Castille Elementary School, 24042 Via La Caruna, about 8:20 p.m., Sheriff's Lt. Robert Rivas said.
The blast shook windows and foundations in the neighborhood and prompted several calls to the Sheriff's Department.
Sharon Goble, who lives a few houses away from the school, was watching TV with her husband when the bomb went off.
"The explosion was extremely loud," Goble said. "It rattled the entire house."
The couple joined several neighbors outside, where they smelled the acrid odor of gunpowder and saw smoke billowing from the underground drain. The explosion was contained inside the storm drain, which amplified the sound, Rivas said.
"Someone probably drove by with the pipe bomb and a fuse, dropped it down the storm drain and drove off," he said. "It echoed down there and must have sounded good and loud."
Rivas said investigators have no witnesses or leads. There have been isolated reports of youngsters setting off fireworks in the area for the past 18 months, he added.
School Principal Merle Smith said the culprits probably are teen-agers committing a dangerous prank.
"I don't look at this as an attack on the school," he said. "I am concerned that somebody could hurt someone with this type of thing. But I don't think it was something personal" against the school.
Smith said a bomb was detonated just outside a building on the grounds on New Year's Eve two years ago. That explosion blew out windows and caused minor structural damage.
Groups of youths often congregate at Castille Park next to the school, the principal said.
Goble agreed, adding that malicious mischief is not uncommon in the neighborhood.
"I think most of us have called the police on these kids at one time or another," she said. "My husband even once helped police chase one of them around."
She said several residents are considering forming a Neighborhood Watch group because of the problems caused by teen-agers, as well as recent burglaries.
"We all try to look out for each other in this neighborhood," she said.