Sunday, February 03, 2008

Danville police arrest man, seize weapons, explosive materials

Arrest terroristBy Scott Marshall and Eric Louie

Article Launched: 02/01/2008 03:02:12 PM PST

Danville police arrested a man this afternoon and seized weapons, law enforcement gear and equipment and homemade explosives at a home across the street from a Diablo Road preschool.
"It's very concerning that all these items that he possessed makes it seem that he wants to be a police officer," said Danville police Chief Chris Wenzel.

Neil Cooper, 26, had badges, bullet-resistant vests and jackets emblazoned with "police," "FBI" and "SWAT." A car parked in his backyard was equipped with a siren and resembled a detective vehicle, Wenzel said. Investigators plan to ask other law enforcement agencies if they have received any reports of someone impersonating an officer, Wenzel said.

The incident began at noon when a woman who was inside Cooper's residence in the 800 block of Diablo Road saw him entering the backyard and carrying a handgun in a holster to confront a man. Cooper's relatives in the home told police they saw him brandish the weapon at the other man, who left quickly afterward.

The woman left and called police. Patrol and plainclothes officers arrived and yelled for Cooper to come out and he was detained without incident, according to police and a witness, Rich Gonsalves, 35, of Clayton, an appraiser who was on Diablo Road during the arrest.

Inside the home, police found three flares connected with black tape and with wires connecting them to a battery, as well as the police clothing. They also found a .22-caliber handgun, rifles and air guns, one of which was a replica of an AR-15, which is a civilian version of the military's M-16 rifle.

They also found homemade explosive materials and a book about bomb making.

The Walnut Creek police bomb squad responded at 2:30 p.m. to handle the explosives.

The Acorn Learning Center preschool at 816 Diablo Road and some other homes were evacuated. Diablo Road was closed for three or four blocks. Vista Grande Elementary School, at 667 Diablo Road, was not locked down or otherwise affected, said Terry Koehne, a spokesman for the San Ramon Valley Unified School District.

Police turned around motorists near Bobbie Drive and El Cerro Boulevard during the incident.
Cooper was arrested on suspicion of an explosives offense and possession of illegal weapons, Wenzel said.

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