Nova Scotia

Police arrest man in Amherst after 2 large blasts this week

Police in Amherst, N.S., have arrested a man in relation to two devices that exploded this week. A third device was detonated by police Wednesday morning.

3rd explosive device was found by police and successfully detonated Wednesday

Amherst police were on scene detonating an explosive device near Rotary Park on Agnew Street early Wednesday morning. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

Police have arrested a man in relation to two explosions that shook homes and alarmed residents in Amherst, N.S., this week.

The arrest comes the same day a third explosive device was found in a local park by officers investigating an early morning explosion of another device just four blocks away.

The first explosion happened Monday evening near the intersection of Rupert and Agnew streets, in what residents say is usually a quiet area of the town.

The suspect was arrested Wednesday and is expected in Amherst provincial court Thursday. He is facing charges related to the fabrication and detonation of explosive devices.

His name has not yet been released.

Police are also looking to speak to a person of interest.

3rd explosive device detonated by RCMP

The third explosive device was successfully detonated by RCMP on Wednesday.

Amherst Police Chief Dwayne Pike would not say what the devices were, but said there is currently no evidence to suggest anyone is trying to intentionally harm others. No one has been injured and there's been no property damage.

The second device was found in Rotary Park early Wednesday morning. Police safely detonated the device. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

"It's still very concerning, as you can imagine," Pike said, adding the devices were smaller than a shoebox.

"There's no targeted threat or immediate threat except these things happened in public areas, they usually happened late at night when there was no one around.

"But there's always a concern that somebody could walk by or drive by or even people that are responsible for this could cause some serious harm or death to themselves."

Pike said police were called around Wednesday 2:40 a.m. after a device detonated near the Armoury building, a loud explosion that woke many in town and prompted numerous calls to police.

During a search, police located a second device in Rotary Park that had not gone off. An RCMP explosive disposal unit was called to the scene. Pike said the RCMP team successfully detonated the second device around 9 a.m.

Pike said police are "pretty certain" the two devices from early Wednesday morning were the only ones in the area.

Pam Bryson lives in the residential neighbourhood of Amherst where the two explosions have happened. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

Pam Bryson, who lives in the area, said she woke up to a loud boom after 2 a.m. on Wednesday. She went onto her front step and looked around, but didn't see anything.

"It was scary. It sounded like it was in my backyard," she said.

Bryson then looked out the back door. She heard a dog barking on Melrose Street after the blast, but didn't see or hear anything else.

"This is a pretty good town for the most part, pretty quiet. Scary stuff. So hopefully they'll catch them," she said.

Dwayne Pike is chief of the Amherst Police Department. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

Pike wouldn't say whether Wednesday's devices were similar to the one Monday. He said it was still early in the investigation but police would expect the two incidents to have a connection.

Monday's incident happened just after 10 p.m. Police said they received "numerous calls about a large blast that was heard throughout town."

Police said officers found debris from a detonated device near the intersection of Agnew and Rupert streets. The town's mayor said the Wednesday and Monday explosions happened about three blocks apart.

"I haven't been able to be in touch with my police chief to get a formal briefing, but I know now this is looking more serious and is going to be fully and thoroughly investigated," said Mayor David Kogon.

Kogon, who lives in the area, said he didn't personally hear either of the blasts, "but numerous people certainly did."

"It was obviously a very audible event to a lot of people," he said, calling the incidents "worrisome."

Brandon Agnew, the owner of Brandon's Bakery, lives and works on Rupert Street, roughly 15 metres from where Monday night's explosion happened.

"I was just sitting on my couch watching TV and all of a sudden this massive blast went off and I must say it startled me quite a little bit," Agnew told CBC's Maritime Noon.

"It almost smelled like a firework, a large firework....You could see this haze of smoke under the street lights, so you knew something had gone off in the street."

He said he went outside where several of his neighbours were already gathering.

Another explosion happened late Monday night near the intersection of Agnew Street and Rupert Street. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

"My roommate actually saw this big ball of fire out of his window," Agnew said.

Police arrived shortly after and Agnew said they were on site for over an hour, blocking off the street and "it looked as though they were bagging evidence."

"It's kind of alarming. It's not something you'd expect around here. It makes you wonder where and when it's going to happen next. It also makes you wonder, are these individuals out to cause harm? Hopefully not, but it is rather scary," he said.

Pike said police have been speaking to neighbours and people in the area, but anyone who has witnessed anything that caused them to "raise an eyebrow" is asked to reach out to police.

Anyone with information about these incidents can contact the Amherst Police Department at 902-667-8600 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS).

With files from CBC's Maritime Noon, Paul Palmeter

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