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Suspect bomb closes 99 ramps
Incident follows earlier Ripon pipe bomb detonation
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Manteca Police Sgt. Gregg Beall prepares to destroy a suspected pipe bomb on the on ramp to northbound Highway 99 at Main Street in Ripon Saturday afternoon after the ramp had been closed to traffic. - photo by GLENN KAHL/ The Bulletin

Traffic was diverted from the Highway 99 northbound ramps at Main Street in Ripon for two hours Saturday afternoon due to a suspected 12-inch plastic pipe bomb found on the edge of the road near the shuttered Barnwood Restaurant on East Main Street.

Ripon Police officers were first on the scene at 2:45 p.m., setting up orange traffic cones as a warning to oncoming traffic attempting to enter the freeway from East Main and Second streets.  CHP traffic officers halted traffic in both directions on the ramp with a black and white unit detouring Highway 99 motorists from entering the off ramp.

There were a couple of motorists that did not see the need for the orange cones across the ramp entrance or the CHP patrol car with its emergency lights flashing and drove around them on the wrong side of the street and onto the freeway.

The San Joaquin County Bomb Unit was called to respond to the Ripon location. The unit was headed by Manteca Police bomb technician Sgt. Gregg Beall who was first on the scene with another officer.  Protocol demands they wait for another officer out of Stockton to also respond before taking any action to defuse a device.

It was about an hour and a half after the pipe was located that Sgt. Beall donned his anti-flak suit and approached the plastic pipe eventually detonating the device with the customary warning yell, “Fire in the hole, 3, 2, 1.”  The pipe was blown into bits with pieces scattering across the ramps and into the weeded area across the roadway.

The bomb technicians collected the white plastic pieces and looked into shattered remnants of the pipe and smelling for gun powder.  They determined the suspected bomb had been actually harmless.  It was much the same result they had discovered some three weeks ago when another device was located and destroyed on Boesch Lane just off of North Stockton Avenue shortly after dark.

Traffic was allowed to enter the freeway ramp shortly before 5 p.m. that had been closed for some two hours.