The man arrested for possessing an explosive device in front of a Ripon hardware store on Saturday has been identified.
Waterford’s Julian Red Stehle has been booked into the San Joaquin County jail on four felony charges: manufacturing a destructive device; possession of a destructive device; possession of a controlled substance; and manufacturing a controlled substance.
Technicians with Manteca’s Bomb Squad inspected Stehle’s Toyota Tacoma for about 30 minutes on Saturday, locating a completed destructive device. The materials were taken from the scene for destruction and search warrants were later served in Waterford and Modesto, eliciting additional evidence.
“We don’t have any indication that there were any threats made or that it would be used against a person or entities,” said Sgt. Steve Merchant, public information officer with the Ripon Police Department.
Stehle was apprehended on Saturday afternoon after a manager at Schemper’s ACE Hardware reported the 18-year-old acting suspiciously. Stehle appeared ill while walking in the store, according to employee testimony, and later returned to the parking lot in his gray pickup truck, parking near a propane tank with his head hung low.
Ripon police were dispatched to the scene. While speaking with Stehle, officers Mario Ysit and Mindy Morris – praised just two days earlier for rescuing two large dogs from an irrigation canal – detected marijuana and suspicious components consistent with those of an explosive device.
“Luckily with the Ripon Police Department, even though we’re a small department, we do provide outstanding training for our officers,” Merchant said. “One of the more valuable things an officer can learn is how to not get themselves hurt. … As soon as they saw components that could be used in manufacturing those devices, they immediately backed off and secured the area.”
Ysit and Morris’ intuition served them well. Manteca’s Bomb Squad was called in to assist with the investigation and technicians soon confirmed the findings.
An investigation is ongoing. Merchant said detectives are trying to determine if Stehle purchased any of materials for a destructive device from Schemper’s ACE Hardware. “We don’t believe he did,” Merchant said, “but that’s one avenue we’re looking at.”
“Our No. 1 concern on this case is public safety,” Merchant added. “We wanted to make sure Riponites were safe and secure. … We don’t have any indication that regarding this case that there should be more cause for concern.”
Stehle’s bail has been set at $550,000 and he will appear in court today in Manteca.