Man dies from possible explosion of home-made bomb between two Antioch schools Monday morning

Antioch Police detectives and officers investigate the scene where a man is believed to have died from self-inflicted wounds from the explosion of a home-made bomb at the south end of F Street next to Live Oak High School on Monday morning, Jan. 31, 2021. Photos by Allen D. Payton

Witness who heard explosion, felt blast and saw smoke says another man was standing next to victim

Considered a suspicious death by APD, not homicide

Woman killed in Saturday night double homicide not pregnant

One of the buildings of Live Oak High School can be seen at the south end of F Street.

By Allen D. Payton

According to Antioch Police Strategic Communications Officer Darryl Saffold, an unknown Caucasian man appearing to be in his mid-50’s died from apparent self-inflicted wounds to his upper body caused by an improvised explosive device, Monday morning. The incident occurred at the south end of F Street near W. 17th Street near Live Oak High School and just outside the fence line of Antioch Middle School.

The APD Dispatch first received a call about 7:30 AM after someone discovered the body. Officers arrived on the scene, but no identification was found on the body.

Live Oak High School at the south end of F Street and the Antioch Library on W. 18th Street can be seen in the background.

It was first believed to be the city’s fourth or fifth homicide of the month and year, and early reports claimed the man died from gunshot wounds due to the placement of multiple, yellow, plastic evidence markers. But according to Saffold, those “indicate items of importance such as matter”, meaning pieces of the body of the deceased, and no shell casings were located at the scene.

The man’s body showed he had “suffered severe trauma to his face and right hand” and was “possibly homeless,” Saffold stated. “There were wires near the body. The way the body was positioned he was on top of the wires.”

As a result, the Walnut Creek Police Bomb Squad was called out.

Saffold held two press conferences about the incident on Monday. View them on the Antioch Herald Facebook page, here and here. (Apologies for the poor sound quality. Please be sure to turn up your speakers.)

An Antioch Police Detective at the scene where several yellow evidence markers are on the street near the location of the covered body. (Redacted)

Live Oak Classes Cancelled, Students Shelter in Place at Nearby Schools

View of the front of Fremont Elementary School on F Street near the scene of the incident.

Classes were cancelled at Live Oak and the teachers were sent home about 9:15 AM. as APD expanded the crime scene. Asked why, one officer said “We have reasons to believe there are safety reasons. They’re calling the bomb squad.” Up until that point APD was not sure the cause of the man’s death.

At 9:30 AM, an announcement could be heard from the neighboring Antioch Middle School loudspeaker for the students to shelter in place and their parents were being called.

Students at the adjacent Fremont Elementary Schools were also required to shelter in place. In addition, the “Out of an abundance of caution” Saffold said, APD asked all people within the area of “F Street between West 11th to West 17th Streets” to shelter in place, as police from several agencies, including Homeland Security, searched for other possible explosive devices. The shelter in place was lifted at 2:27 PM.

Live Oak Principal Tim Cooper said the students will return to school, tomorrow.

View of scene from W. 18th Street. Covered body of deceased redacted.

Witnesses Heard Explosion, Saw Smoke, One Felt Blast Saw Second Man at Scene

Sean Ledesma, who lives on W. 19th Street near the Antioch Library on W. 18th Street, said he was outside at the time having a smoke before getting ready to go to work, and heard an explosion at 5:45 AM.

“I jumped and immediately looked over in the direction of the schools and saw smoke rising up and the smoke reached as high as a nearby tree,” he said.  “It shook the ground. It was so close I felt the blast. It was immediate.”

“I saw a second man, there. He looked like he was in shock,” Ledesma continued. “It didn’t look like he was in a hurry to leave, and I was wondering why, if a bomb just went off.”

“I’ve heard explosions in Antioch, before. This one was different,” he stated. “I thought someone was just messing around with M-80’s. But what threw me off was how high the smoke went up and just stayed there.”

“I wondered, what was he doing between schools? Did he have bigger plans? Did the bomb go off accidentally?” Ledesma shared. “I took it that the other guy standing there didn’t expect as large of an explosion.”

Asked if he had spoken to police about what he had witnessed, Ledesma responded, “I haven’t spoken to police, yet.”

An APD Community Service Officer was nearby and took Ledesma’s name and information.

Another Antioch resident, named Mike, who said he was collecting recyclables on F Street near the corner of W. 17th Street at the time of the man’s death, also heard the explosion. He left the area before any additional information could be shared while Ledesma was being interviewed by the Herald.

Antioch Police expanded the boundaries of the crime scene for safety reasons due to the possible presence of a bomb.

Woman Killed Saturday Night Not Pregnant

It was also later shared by Saffold, that the 30-year-old female victim in the double homicide, Saturday night, was not pregnant, as was both rumored, as well as believed by District 1 Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker who shared that view with the Herald on Sunday night.

“I knew these humans. I worked with the mother and the son she was looking forward to (a) healthy baby,” the councilwoman wrote.

Asked if the woman had other children, Torres-Walker responded, “No. But she was looking forward to this baby.”

“This didn’t have to happen, but I guess politics matters more than people,” the councilwoman also wrote, referring to Mayor Lamar Thorpe not supporting or placing her proposal on a council agenda of hiring four more officers for the Sycamore area of Antioch, where the double homicide occurred. (See related articles here and here)

Saffold reiterated that the male suspect and woman who was killed were in a relationship. He added that they from Georgia where the suspect had outstanding warrants for domestic violence against her. (See related article)

the attachments to this post:

Man dies from explosion of home-made bomb F St APD Detective 013122AHAP

Man dies from explosion view from 18th St 013122 AHAP

Man dies from explosion of home-made bomb Fremont Elementary 013122

Man dies from explosion of home-made bomb F St 013122 AHAP4

Man dies from explosion of home-made bomb F St 013122 AHAP3

Man dies from explosion of home-made bomb F St 013122 AHAP2

Man dies from explosion of home-made bomb F St 013122 AHAP

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