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Driver Jailed After Grenades Found

November 05, 1994|PHIL SNEIDERMAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

PALMDALE — Three military hand grenades turned up in the back seat of a car stopped for a speeding violation in Palmdale, prompting sheriff's deputies to arrest the driver on suspicion of possession of explosive materials.

The driver, Thomas Laconde, 28, of Leona Valley, remained in the Antelope Valley Sheriff's Station jail Friday in lieu of $150,000 bail. Investigators said they plan to ask a prosecutor to file criminal charges Monday.

The grenades were discovered Thursday morning when a deputy stopped Laconde's car for traveling too fast on Avenue R at 20th Street East, deputies said.

"One of them was just sitting in plain view in the back, on top of something that looked like a tool box," said Deputy Jim Gonzales, an arson-explosives investigator who was summoned to the scene.

Gonzales said two more grenades and a handgun were also found inside the car. Deputies diverted traffic to other streets and told teachers at a nearby elementary school to keep their students indoors while experts inspected and removed the devices.

Two of grenades were World War II-vintage "pineapple" devices, while the third was a more modern "baseball" type, Gonzales said.

One grenade had a fuse but no gunpowder, while another had gunpowder but no fuse. By interchanging the parts, Laconde could have assembled one operable grenade, the investigator said. "It doesn't take a lot of skill or time," Gonzales said. "It just takes a little thought to put it together."

Deputies took the devices to a remote desert area and disassembled them. Laconde did not tell deputies much about where the grenades came from. "He said he got them from a friend," Gonzales said.

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