STOCKTON (CBS13) – A Stockton neighborhood was evacuated Monday as authorities searched a home that could contain explosives.
The home is in the 2400 block of W. Sonoma Avenue. According to a San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Department statement, it is related to the home of a suspect arrested Sunday.
“It’s on my street and, you know, it’s really close to home. So, I’m just curious as to what’s going on,” Lastly Nop, a neighbor, said.
The public was asked to stay out of the neighborhood until the county bomb team and FBI agents cleared the home.
“I walked out and seen all of police tape and was like what’s going on?” Cindy Cox, a neighbor, said.
“Definitely kind of scary,” Elaine Diaz-Miller, a neighbor, said.
On Sunday afternoon, San Joaquin County deputies tried to make a traffic stop on a vehicle driven by a man believed to be connected to a church bombing. The driver, 50-year-old James Towles, drove off, leading deputies on a chase, which ended when Towles slammed his sports car into the back of a pickup truck in the area of Ryde and Alpine avenues.
While searching the Towles’ car, deputies found an object that, they say, appeared to be an explosive. The sheriff’s bomb squad came to the scene and disarmed the object.
Towles is suspected of throwing an explosive device at a church at Alpine and Delaware avenues following an argument between two groups of people at a church event. Russell Altheide, 65, was also identified as a suspect in the bombing. Both men were arrested and booked into jail on charges of possession of explosives.
“I mean, I never ever see any issues going on there. I mean people coming and going but that’s everywhere. We have people coming and going here too. It’s kind of scary,” Diaz-Miller said.
Towles is also facing charges of, felony hit and run with injury, possession of cocaine, and possession of “slungshot” illegal weapon. The sheriff’s department says more charges are forthcoming.
Altheide is also facing the charge of conspiracy to commit a crime.
“Well, it’s kind of scary because you don’t know what your neighbors are doing behind closed doors,” Cox said.
A spokesperson for the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office told CBS13 that this situation is concerning given this search occurred in a home in a residential area with other homes close by.
“We want to make sure we figure out if there might any kind of relation to anything that can be dangerous or if they had any kind of plans to do anything else dangerous because this is something that’s been accumulating for a while,” Deputy Alan Sanchez with San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office said.
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