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Man Badly Injured by Pipe Bomb in His Car

The explosion outside the Santa Ana office of Rep.Loretta Sanchez did not target her, police say.

June 16, 2003|Jennifer Mena | Times Staff Writer

A man was seriously injured Sunday afternoon after a pipe bomb he was carrying in his car exploded while he was parked just a few feet from the Santa Ana campaign office of Rep. Loretta Sanchez, police said.

Investigators said the bomb was not directed at Sanchez (D-Garden Grove) or anyone in her office, which was closed when the bomb went off at 2:25 p.m.

Santa Ana Police Sgt. Baltazar De La Riva said no one in the strip mall at Harbor Boulevard and West McFadden Avenue was a target. No structures were damaged.

Police did not say whom the explosive may have been directed at.

De La Riva said investigators had identified the suspect, but police would not release his name.

Raul Luna, a spokesman for Sanchez, said that, as part of her usual schedule, the congresswoman had been in Orange County for the weekend and had left for Washington, D.C., on Sunday afternoon. He said her staff had briefed her on the bombing.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Tuesday June 17, 2003 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 46 words Type of Material: Correction
Pipe bomb -- An article in Monday's California section incorrectly reported that Santa Ana police said the office of Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Garden Grove) was not the target of a suspected pipe-bomber. Rather, police said they had no information to suggest her office was a target.

De La Riva said police had not received threatening calls regarding the explosion.

The bomb was made of PVC plastic pipe, De La Riva said, but he would provide no other details, noting that the investigation was continuing.

Along with Santa Ana police, the FBI and the Orange County sheriff's bomb squad were at the scene.

The suspect was in a brown 1990 Toyota for 10 to 15 minutes before the explosion, De La Riva said.

He was taken to Western Medical Center-Santa Ana, where he was listed in serious condition, De La Riva said. The only damage to the car was to the interior.

The strip mall includes a convenience store, a video arcade and several restaurants.

Nick Nguyen, the manager of Cafe Lu, just steps from the explosion, said a passerby rushed into his coffee shop and said a man was on fire. Nguyen said he grabbed a bucket of water and rushed outside. Other people poured water on the man. Nguyen threw his water inside the car, which was smoldering.

The man was about 5-foot-6 and of medium build, Nguyen said.

By the time Nguyen saw the man, he was wearing nothing but underwear. His face was charred and his torso was burned, Nguyen said.

As paramedics treated the suspect, Nguyen recalled him saying, "I was just fixing my car."

John Ladolfi, a security guard for Cafe Lu, said the incident follows more frequent graffiti "tagging" on the walls outside Sanchez's office.

Sanchez unseated conservative stalwart Robert K. Dornan in 1996 and defeated him again two years later.

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