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Child-care provider arrested on suspicion of making bombs in Lake Elsinore

One son is also charged. A second son, injured when a bomb exploded in their home, is to be charged when he leaves the hospital.

October 09, 2009|Robert J. Lopez

By all appearances, Rebecca Kuzelka used her home to operate a child day-care business on a quiet, tree-lined street in Lake Elsinore. But a different picture of the 55-year-old mother emerged after her home was rocked by an explosion late Wednesday night.

On Thursday morning, deputies arrested Kuzelka and her son Grey Kuzelka, 21, on suspicion of using their home to make bombs and grow marijuana.

Another son, Benjamin Kuzelka, 23, injured his hand in the explosion and was hospitalized. Authorities said he would be arrested when he is released.

Around 11:30 p.m. Wednesday night, the Riverside County Sheriff's Department said, Benjamin Kuzelka was making an explosive device when it accidentally detonated, injuring his hand.

About 20 minutes later, the department said, Kuzelka showed up at a local hospital saying that he had accidentally shot himself. "His injuries were inconsistent with a gunshot wound and doctors called the police," said Deputy Melissa Nieburger, a department spokeswoman.

Deputies went to the Kuzelka home on a cul-de-sac in the 30500 block of Audelo Street. Property records list Rebecca Kuzelka as the sole owner of the house, which was built in 1983.

Inside the home, Nieburger said, deputies found materials used to make explosives and a sophisticated indoor marijuana growing room.

Authorities did not say how many marijuana plants were found in the home or disclose the type of explosive materials that were discovered.

A law enforcement source told The Times that substances found at the home were similar to acetone peroxide, or TATP, the type of powerful explosive used in the 2007 London subway terrorist bombings. There was no evidence that the Lake Elsinore incident was related to terrorism, the source said.

Riverside County deputies, FBI investigators and agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives took part in the investigation. Authorities also detonated some of the explosives at the home.

"It was really loud. I thought it was thunder and was starting to storm," said Alma Coronado, who lives on the same street. "The windows started shaking."

Nieburger said deputies had not determined how many children Rebecca Kuzelka cared for at her home.

No children were present at the time of the explosion, authorities said.

Rebecca and Grey Kuzelka were booked on charges of manufacturing of explosives, cultivating marijuana and felony child endangerment, Nieburger said.

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robert.lopez@latimes.com

Times staff writers Andrew Blankstein and My-Thuan Tran contributed to this report.

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