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‘Sounded like a plane crashed’: Neighbors recount moments before pipe bomb blast

Updated September 25, 2023 - 7:06 pm

Neighbors of a man who said he was disfigured in a pipe bomb explosion at his central Las Vegas home Friday evening said he was upset with the breakup of his marriage and wanted to blow up his wife’s possessions in his driveway.

The Metropolitan Police Department said in a statement that the man was “attempting to end his life” at 7:31 p.m. when the explosive blew up and “caused significant injuries.”

But the man’s neighbors, who praised him as a good Samaritan that was always offering to assist them, made no mention of him wanting to kill himself.

“This man is one of the nicest neighbors you’re ever going to meet,” said Charlette Estes, who lives across the street from the man’s house at 317 S. Davenport Lane near Alta Drive. “If he’s driving by multiple times a day, everybody on this street, they wave at each other and say hi.”

Not long before the explosion, the man had transported his wife’s possessions into the driveway and stated that he wanted to blow them up, Estes said.

The man often bought fireworks and shot off mortar-type ones from his property on many occasions other than July 4th, a frequent problem throughout the neighborhood, according to Estes.

When the bomb blew up early Friday evening, the impact, which made Estes’ husband fall out of bed, “sounded like something crashed, like a plane crashed,” she said. “I didn’t know what to expect when I came out that front door.”

She left her house in her stocking feet and ran to the direction where she heard the man yelling in his driveway.

“I get over there and there is just pieces of everything blown up everywhere,” she said.

Neighbor remembers seeing bomb

Neighbor Brian Woodward said that minutes earlier, the man had shown him the pipe bomb filled with gunpowder removed from fireworks.

“I went over to talk to him and he said, ‘I want to show you something.’ He went into the house about three times and then he came out and he had this pipe bomb, at least three inches thick. It was a cast iron pipe, with the caps on the side.”

Woodward said the man told him “‘I wanna blow (expletive) up.’” Woodward counseled him not to, so as not to scare the other neighbors and Woodward’s dogs.

“I believe I talked him out of it,” he said. “I thought I had him talked out of it, because he said, ‘OK, Brian, I’m cool, I’m cool.’ ”

Woodward went to his front porch and placed food in a dish to feed some feral cats and heard the man talking loudly to himself in the driveway. He was about to go and talk to him again when the explosion hit and knocked Woodward down.

“He started screaming and hollering and he called my name,” Woodward said.

The man apparently lit a fuse on the bomb that was too short and exploded before he could get away, Woodward said.

Estes said paramedics took the man to UMC’s trauma unit, and Metro said in its statement that the man had survived.

Estes said the last that she had heard was that the man was under heavy sedation at UMC and his future was uncertain given his severe injuries.

If you’re thinking about suicide, or are worried about a friend or loved one, help is available 24/7 by calling or texting the Lifeline network at 988. Live chat is available at 988lifeline.org.

Contact Jeff Burbank at jburbank@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0382. Follow him @JeffBurbank2 on X.

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