Community on standby Saturday as
potential for explosion investigated
Wednesday, May 14, 2014 5:42 AM
A threat of an explosion put Spring Valley residents on edge Saturday morning as two homes were evacuated and the Bloomington Bomb Squad was called in to investigate suspicious chemicals in a home just outside the city.
The chain of events was initiated when a deputy spotted Sonny Ray Juday, 30, of Spring Valley, around midnight in Spring Valley, said Fillmore County Sheriff Daryl Jensen. The deputy was aware a felony warrant had been issued for Juday.
Juday fled in a vehicle and drove to his family residence, which was known to be frequented by him, about a half a mile north of the Kingsland school on County Road 1. He fled on foot and officers were unable to locate him, said Jensen. A K-9 unit from the Austin Police Department assisted in the search.
While searching for Juday, officers located chemicals and other items in a bus parked on the property. They felt the chemicals could have been related to the making of explosives, said Jensen, so photos were sent to the Bloomington Bomb Squad. After officers with the bomb squad reviewed the photos, they decided to come to the scene.
"They made it safe for us," said Jensen. "They were concerned, as we were, when the officers going into the bus saw something they didn't like."
The Rochester/Olmsted County emergency response unit was also requested to assist in the apprehension. The unit is a tactical team with equipment and vehicles that specialized in more dangerous situations that local officers aren't comfortable dealing with, said Jensen.
When the unit showed up, Juday came out of hiding and gave himself up, said Jensen. Juday was taken into custody at approximately 8:25 a.m. and transported to the Fillmore County Jail.
Officers executed a search warrant of the property at 11:05 a.m. and the bomb squad detonated some of the unknown chemicals found, said Jensen. No explosives or bombs were located in the bus or on the property, he added.
Nearby residents in two homes within a 300-foot safety zone suggested by the bomb squad were evacuated as a precautionary measure until the scene was considered safe, said Jensen.
County Road 1 and side roads north of the high school leading to newer subdivisions were blocked to traffic Saturday morning and soccer games scheduled at the Kingsland school were moved to the city park.
The Spring Valley Ambulance Service and Spring Valley Fire Department set up in the school parking lot on standby to assist if needed. Any time the bomb squad is working, EMS people are required to be staged nearby in case anything goes badly, explained Jensen.
Although it turned out to be not an explosive situation, Jensen said the proper steps were taken to ensure the safety of local residents and those involved.
"We needed them to make it safe - and that was the right way to do it," he said.
Juday was expected to appear in Fillmore County District Court for the felony warrant on Monday. He was also expected to face charges related to fleeing from an officer.
Evidence from the search warrant will be evaluated and reports will be sent to the Fillmore County attorney for review, so Juday could face additional charges later.
In his 35 years in law enforcement, Jensen said the bomb squad has only been called in to this area three or four times, and usually that is for something such as a found World War II grenade in which there is uncertainty if it is safe. This was "a unique situation," he said because it involved the safety of a larger area.
The emergency response unit helps local officers a couple times a year, he added, as the unit specializes in situations that may be more dangerous or difficult than is routine for local law enforcement.
Although the incident involved law enforcement for nearly 12 hours, much of that time was standing by and waiting for the right assistance, said Jensen. The K-9 unit lost track of Juday, but after the discovery of the chemicals, the potential danger became more of a priority so officers stood by.
"To keep it in perspective," he said, "it was a warrant arrest and fleeing case. We didn't want people - or the suspect - to get hurt. It was more important to make it safe and take him into custody in a safe way than to storm in. It took the right resources to make it all happen."