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Suspect Held After Pipe Bomb Explodes at Cal Poly

June 17, 1993|DENISE HAMILTON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

POMONA — A man who claimed he was a physicist was arrested by campus police at Cal Poly Pomona early Wednesday after he was seen loitering around a building where a pipe bomb went off a day earlier, authorities said.

Michael Joel Whitney, 35, of Moreno Valley in Riverside County, was wearing jeans, a sport coat and carrying two 12-inch daggers in scabbards around his waist when arrested.

Police also found two loaded guns in his car and a bottle of flammable liquid labeled "chloroform" wedged inside a vent in the new campus Administration Building, where the incendiary device was discovered Tuesday.

Whitney was booked on suspicion of possession of a loaded firearm and two unlawful weapons at the county sheriff's station in Walnut, Campus Police Sgt. Dale Gadd said.

Police say Whitney is a suspect in Tuesday's pipe bomb incident. Cal Poly officials say there is no evidence that Whitney has a physics degree or that he attended or worked at Cal Poly Pomona.

"We don't know what the motive was; it's a very unusual circumstance, in that someone would go through the amount of effort and return the next night," Gadd said.

Police say the suspect tripped an alarm that alerted campus police when he entered the administration building Wednesday.

On Tuesday, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's bomb squad was sent to the campus after authorities discovered a break-in and found a pipe bomb that had gone off, causing at least $500 damage, but no injuries. Police said the intruder also fired two bullets into doors in the Administration Building.

On Wednesday, police found a .32-caliber semiautomatic pistol and a .22-caliber rifle in Whitney's car.

The new building houses all campus administrative offices and has 250 employees, a Cal Poly spokesman said. The university president, Bob Suzuki, is expected to move into his new suite of offices in the building this week.

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