Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Wednesday

October 23, 2013

Blast destroys Dunes outhouse

GLEN ARBOR — A bomb that blew apart a Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore outdoor restroom could lead to federal charges against the suspect or suspects who planted it, the park’s chief ranger said.

A blast occurred early Sunday at the isolated School Lake boat launch off South Bohemian Road and thundered across Cleveland Township. Sleeping Bear Dunes Chief Ranger Phil Akers said the explosion caused $14,000 of damage to an outhouse that was closed for the season.

”We do not have suspects at this time,” he said. “We’re treating this as a significant vandalism case.”

Leelanau County dispatch received a call at 4:29 a.m. from a resident near the intersection of Maple City Road and West Harbor Highway who reported an explosion that shook his house. Deputies who could not find any sign of an explosion later learned it occurred almost 2 miles away.

Sheriff Mike Borkovich said the “blown apart” outhouse was reported by another citizen at 1 p.m. He said sheriff’s deputies are assisting park rangers and bomb technicians from the state police and FBI in the investigation.

The incident marks the second time this month that federal agents investigated a report of explosives in Leelanau County. On Oct. 4, about 60 FBI agents executed sealed federal warrants on two properties in Suttons Bay and Leland Township on a search for potentially explosive or hazardous materials.

“It does not appear to have any connection with the warrants two weeks ago,” Borkovich said of the outhouse blast.

Akers said he couldn’t comment on what type of bomb or explosive was used on park property, citing the ongoing investigation. He said the suspect or suspects could face a combination of state and federal charges because of overlapping jurisdictions.

“We would work closely with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Grand Rapids,” he said.

The School Lake boat launch reopened after bomb technicians completed their onsite investigation. Akers said the outhouse likely will be rebuilt over the winter and stressed the explosion was an isolated incident.

“We’re treating this as a significant vandalism case, this is an isolated incident and it’s a safe place to recreate,” he said. “This isolated incident shouldn’t keep people away.”

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