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Pipe Bomb Forces Evacuation in Pine Grove Mills, Suspect in Custody

By Steve Bauer

In a scene straight out of a Hollywood movie, police and explosives experts descended on a Pine Grove Mills neighborhood Tuesday afternoon.

A resident reported that a friend had a pipe bomb in his SUV, parked along the 200 block of Wyandotte Lane in the Piney Ridge development.

Before the drama ended several hours later, more than a dozen homes were evacuated and a suspect was in custody. The alleged bomb maker, Frederick Rice of Harrisburg, 53, reportedly believed his wife was having an affair and Rice allegedly planned to kill his romantic rival.

The call for help went out at 12:45 p.m. Tuesday. Ferguson Township Police Chief Diane Conrad says, “The owner of the vehicle voluntarily came with police and he has been with us ever since.”

Tom Dowling, the man who called police, tells StateCollege.com, “I had a dear friend who came to me for refuge, who has some mental issues who told me a story and while he was here told me some things that kept me from allowing him to leave here of his own accord. Let me put it that way.”

At first, police blocked Wyandotte Lane, while waiting for the Penn State Bomb Squad and the Pennsylvania State Police Bomb Squad to arrive. Once in place, they determined there was a large pipe bomb in the passenger compartment of Rice’s Ford Explorer. The vehicle’s windows were covered with strips of duct tape to stop flying glass in case of an explosion. X-rays of the device convinced explosives experts that it was a live bomb.

Residents in 15-18 nearby homes were ordered to evacuate just after 5 p.m. while the bomb was disabled. The Pine Grove Mills Lion’s Club was opened up so the evacuees had a place to wait.

The bomb was approximately 12 inches long and contained a “large amount of gun powder” and was “capable of causing substantial harm” according to the criminal complaint. Rice reportedly planned to attach the bomb to a car belonging to his wife’s “paramour” and set it off by remote control.

The bomb was eventually disabled without being exploded. Residents were allowed back in their homes shortly after 7 p.m.

Rice is charged with weapons of mass destruction, possession of explosives, prohibited offensive weapons and recklessly endangering another person. He was scheduled for arraignment late Tuesday night.

You can watch video of this incident below:

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