Guerneville bomb reports becoming routine police calls

Sheriff’s deputies closed a portion of Drake Road in Guerneville last week to investigate a report of a pipe bomb sighting.

“We had a report of a sighting of a pipe bomb from a guy riding a bicycle on Drake Road at Riverlands,” said Sheriff’s Sgt. Spencer Crum.

“He rode into the substation and told the deputies about it. They closed down the street, called out the bomb squad and searched the area.”

No bomb was found, said Crum. “They brought the bicyclist back to make sure they were in the right area. They couldn’t find any pipe bomb so we don’t know exactly what he saw. That’s not to say it wasn’t a pipe bomb,” said Crum. “We do encourage everybody to report suspicious things. We’d rather be better to be safe than sorry.”

The July 10 Drake Road bomb search was the second reported pipe bomb sighting in Guerneville in less than a week after a bomb was reported on July 7 on the Monte Rio public beach. Sheriff’s bomb squad deputies located that bomb and evacuated the beach while they removed it.

The “suspicious device” reported by a beachgoer about 11 a.m. was made with an approximately five-inch piece of metal pipe filled with gunpowder, said Monte Rio Volunteer Fire Department Chief Steve Baxman. About 100 people were evacuated briefly in the vicinity of where the device was found.

In May a sheriff’s report on the arrest of a man for stealing gay pride flags from Guerneville’s town plaza also mentioned pipe bombs.

In that incident deputies arrested Vincent O’Sullivan, 55, a Guerneville transient, after he allegedly stole two gay pride flags and had threatened to set off pipe bombs in town.

“As they were conducting the investigation into the theft of the rainbow flags, sheriff deputies were made aware of threats to manufacture a pipe bomb for the purpose of detonating it at the Guerneville Safeway and the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office Guerneville substation. The intent was to injure members of the LGBTQ community and deputies,” said Sheriff’s Lt. Eddie Engram in a sheriff’s office media statement.

“In the course of the investigation deputies from the Guerneville Substation developed probable cause that Vincent Joseph O’Sullivan (55) of Guerneville was the suspect in both cases,” said the sheriff’s report.

The bomb charges were later dropped after O’Sullivan wasn’t found in possession of any explosive devices, said Sgt. Crum. However, O’Sullivan was convicted by a jury of stealing a gay pride flag in Guerneville.

— Frank Robertson