LANCASTER – Homes were evacuated and 10th Street West, between Avenues H-12 and H-14, was blocked off for more than two hours Thursday afternoon after deputies found possible explosive devices inside a vehicle.
Vernon Smith, 52, and Thomas Allen, 39, were arrested around 2 p.m. in connection with the incident, which began as a traffic stop on 10th Street West near Avenue H-12 in Lancaster, sheriff’s officials said.
“Deputies conducted a traffic stop on the vehicle, [a] tan Altima… for a traffic violation. During the traffic stop, one of the occupants exited the vehicle and was briskly walking away from the vehicle,” said Sgt. Chris Bergo of the Lancaster Sheriff’s Station.
“Both the driver and the passenger were detained. The passenger had a parole warrant for his arrest,” Bergo added.
When deputies searched the vehicle, they found methamphetamine and a suspicious device, according to Bergo.
“The device was deemed to be some kind of explosive device,” Bergo said. “They blocked the street off, evacuated a few homes, and the bomb squad subsequently responded.”
As a precaution, three duplexes on the 45300 block of 10th Street West were evacuated while deputies waited for the sheriff’s Arson/Explosives Detail to respond, according to Lt. Fender of the Lancaster Sheriff’s Station.
“The devices were explosive in that they were gunpowder and gasoline, both flammable products,” Fender said. “The bomb squad came out and detonated them to be safe.”
Smith was arrested for illegal possession of explosives and jailed in lieu of $20,000 bail, while Allen was arrested for possession of a controlled substance and booked on $1,000 bail, according to LASD inmate records. Both men are believed to have ties to white supremacy groups in the Antelope Valley, deputies at the scene said.
The incident ended around 5:30 p.m., and residents were allowed back into their homes.