You can’t make this stuff up: The strangeness of Tacoma, Pt. 1,983

Tip leads to arms, feds say | TheNewsTribune.com | Tacoma, WA:

A University Place school crossing guard was charged with violating federal weapons laws Thursday, and agents reported finding explosives – including 10 hand grenades and the makings for more – during a search of his home, officials said.

This guy was my kid’s rocketry instructor. He was out sick a lot is what I remember most,he didn’t talk much, and my kid doesn’t go to the school anymore, because there were other problems, involving race and violence. But this tops the cake of that chapter of life with another weird Tacoma-area figurine, the bomb-making rocketry guy and crossing guard. He was very good at watching out for the kids at the crosswalk, seriously.

So, I found myself explaining to my son, after telling him about this today, that being from Tacoma isn’t really as strange as it feels sometimes. I went to the same high school as Ted Bundy and the Washington Sniper, John Mohammed, was from a couple miles down the road from my place—I didn’t point that out to him, but there you are, the reality of being from around here is that a lot of strange people from Tacoma make headlines for the wrong reason. There’s much else that’s strange about being from this place, yet here again we are confronted with the odd irreality of reality in the ’00s in the US-of-A.

Assuming that the grenades are not simply rocket engines, this is some strange shit.

The story goes on….

A federal complaint indicates agents found 10 improvised hand grenades bundled inside a Rubbermaid container; three homemade bombs made of PVC pipe; military igniters; and smokeless powders, Marshall said.

They also recovered enough grenade bodies and inert fuses to make 25 more grenades, the documents state.

….

He will be barred from work until the investigation is completed, Banks said.

Hulet passed a background check – which included checking his fingerprints against those of known criminals – before being hired, Banks said.

Checks performed Thursday by The News Tribune turned up no criminal records for Hulet in Washington.

He has worked as a crossing guard and playground and lunchroom supervisor at Chambers Primary School and Drum Intermediate School, Banks said.

He also was responsible for restocking and distributing science kits used by the district’s K-7 students, according to district records. Banks said she has ordered the science-kit storage area locked and the kits checked to make sure they haven’t been tampered with.

“I want to stress that we have no reason to believe there has been any tampering with the kits,” Banks wrote. “We are simply taking what may be viewed as an extraordinary precaution.”

Really, I would think it a quite ordinary precaution to take, reviewing the chemicals and materials used by students when the person responsible for them is suspected of federal firearms violations for selling explosives. Methinks the school district is taking too many pains to sound concerned, making perfectly ordinary actions in odd circumstances into “extraordinary” ones, when it just needs to be responsive to the situation.

Also, in an unrelated topic, note that this was uncovered without any recourse to illegal surveillance. Score another one for a justice system based on respect for rights and police work.

I’ve got to to stop writing now. My head is spinning.

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Author: Mitch Ratcliffe

Mitch Ratcliffe is a veteran entrepreneur, journalist and business model hacker. He operates this site, which is a collection of the blogs he's published over the years, as well as an archive of his professional publishing record. As always, this is a work in progress. Such is life.