Police: Father taught son to build bombs

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 10, 2010

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — Investigators have provided disturbing new details about the case of a father accused of teaching his 6-year-old boy how to build and blow up homemade bombs out of items such as empty milk jugs and gunpowder.

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives supervisor Brent Quinn said the father’s creations — one of which was recovered from his Las Cruces home Thursday and disarmed by bomb squad robots — were nothing short of ‘‘improvised explosive devices.’’

‘‘Some people look at it as just making ’fireworks,’’’ he said. ‘‘Obviously, it isn’t that simple.’’

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Anthony Stromberg, a 44-year-old convicted felon, allegedly built two types of bombs at his trailer park home — a pipe bomb made from gunpowder and plastic tubing and another made from fuses, black putty and a milk jug.

The boy drew diagrams of the explosives for detectives and explained how they were built. He told police his father first took him to blow up the devices during last year’s Fourth of July holiday.

Stromberg would have his son stand away as they were ignited, and the boy described the resulting blasts as ‘‘feeling like a big wind blowing you over.’’

The Las Cruces Police Department’s SWAT team, state police, sheriff’s deputies and ATF agents raided Stromberg’s home Thursday morning. Authorities luckily arrested the father before anyone was hurt — homemade explosives can result in lost fingers or worse, Quinn said.

‘‘Those things detonate at thousands of feet per second, sending tiny shards of metal or plastic traveling in all directions,’’ he said.

Stromberg was charged with child abuse and was jailed on a $150,000 bond. The Dona Ana County Detention Center did not have an attorney listed for him Friday afternoon.

Stromberg is also accused of threatening to kill the child’s mother. After an argument two weeks ago with the mother, he allegedly told the boy he was going to kidnap and shoot her, according to a criminal complaint. The boy’s parents are separated but share custody.

The boy said he was afraid his father, who owns shotguns, would follow through with the threat. He confided in an adult, and police were alerted.

Quinn said Stromberg will likely also face federal charges for manufacturing explosives.

Stromberg was convicted in 2006 on felony charges of theft, battery against a household member, resisting arrest and assaulting a law enforcement officer.