A suspicious suitcase containing explosive materials recovered outside a Sandy home Tuesday may be connected to Thursday's homicide and bombing, police say.
The discovery kept a family of 12 out on the street for more than six hours Tuesday as police scoured the home and yard for information linking the suitcase with Thursday's bombing.The material "might or might not be linked to other investigations," Sandy Police Lt. Ed Kantor said. He did confirm that police have several potential suspects in the bombing.
One of those, a teenage boy, was apprehended by police and questioned. He was later released, Sandy Police Chief Sam Dawson said. Detectives planned to meet Wednesday and determine their next step, he said.
The body of a California man was pulled last week from the rubble of a bombed-out house in Sandy's historic district. Phillip Boykin, 21, had been shot to death. A woman also asleep inside the home at the corner of 400 East and Locust Street (8845 South) sustained only minor injuries and later told neighbors that she awoke to see an object fly through a window immediately before the explosion. Neighbors in the area awoke to sounds of gunfire, a loud blast and more shots.
The investigation of last week's bombing led authorities Tuesday to the explosive material at the Christensen home, 1573 E. 8730 South, said Kantor. He said there was no reason to believe the family was a target.
"It was simply left there, that's all we really know for sure," he said.
The family was unaware of the situation until police knocked on the door around 1 p.m. Tuesday. When Michael Christensen, 23, answered the door, police asked him to come take a look at the canvas suitcase lying under a discarded car hood and scraps of carpet.
"He said there was a bomb inside and asked if I could identify if it was anyone's in the family," said Christensen. Police then evacuated the family from the home and began a six-hour investigation of the premises.
Mike's brother, John Christensen, 25, first saw the strange suitcase lying near the trash cans at his home last week. He didn't think anything of it; with 11 brothers and sisters, he said, you stop noticing strange things.
"There's so much junk here. There's always stuff just lying around," Mike Christensen said.
He said he used to know the suspect that police are now looking for. He thinks the materials were stashed at his home because the suspect was familiar with the area.
Though Tuesday's discovery was unsettling, the Christensen family was calm and confident that the "planted bomb" had nothing to do with them.
"No one's out to get us," said Marlene Christensen as her children milled around the street with neighbors and spectators. "It was in pieces. We just happened to be the place where they stashed the bomb."
Kantor said the material would be examined by U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms officials. When lab test results from the materials recovered from Thursday's bombing are returned, police will compare evidence from the two incidents.
"There's a lot of analysis that needs to be done," Kantor said.
Meanwhile, the Christensens are back in their home. Sitting on the neighbor's lawn all day was not an experience they'd like to repeat. But despite the circumstances, Marlene Christensen and her children didn't seem fazed.
"Nothing surprises me anymore," said Marlene. "I've had so many things happen in my life, you wouldn't believe."