‘Stink Bomb’ Prompts Evacuation

Laguna Beach firefighters decontaminate a member of the hazardous materials team that removed the toxin from the apartment. Photo by Ted Reckas.

The occupants of two Laguna Beach apartment complexes were evacuated in the early morning hours Friday after a man wearing a ski mask threw a toxic substance through a window and left a cryptic communique, police said.

The rear of the targeted home was spray-painted with the message, “Stalk Someone Else.”

The occupants of the Cypress Avenue apartment  as well as officers responding to the call were sickened by the fluid, experiencing nausea, watery eyes and sore throats, said Lt. Jason Kravetz from the scene.

About six units, including an adjacent complex whose doors face the targeted property at 463 Cypress St., were evacuated for much of Friday as several agencies investigated the incident and began decontamination of the living room began. . Animal control officers were on the scene to pick up two pet cats, which also needed to be decontaminated, he said.

The foul-smelling, caustic substance was identified as butyric acid, a non-lethal irritant used in attacks on abortion clinics and waling ships, said Richard Sanchez, the county’s director of environmental health. “It’s a stink bomb.”

The apartment’s second-level window was apparently pierced by a rock bound to a glass container containing a caustic, pungent acid that splattered across the carpet, Kravetz said.

Photo by Ted Reckas.

The bomb squad also took possession of an unspecified electronic device also thrown through the window, which was not physically connected to the liquid and was deemed not dangerous, Kravetz said.

The occupants, a young couple who were not further identified and were asleep when the 2:47 a.m. incident occurred, told police they are not embroiled in any disputes and could not suggest who might target them.

“It could be the wrong address,” Kravetz speculated of the suspect, who fled the scene but was chased to no avail by the male occupant. No further description was provided to police other than that he wore a black ski mask.

A hazmat crew recovered black spray paint cans from an alley trash can, which need to be decontaminated before being tested for fingerprints, Kravetz said.

The Red Cross was on the scene to provide assistance to the temporarily displaced residents, Sanchez said.

Photo by Ted Reckas.

Hazardous material team members dispose of the contents of a trash can behind the house where the attack occurred. Photo by Ted Reckas.


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