Detecting the Undetectable, Bomb Scene Safety

Last week, a Westside High School student was caught with explosive materials in his backpack and a device was found in his home.

The Omaha Police Bomb Response Unit was called to the school after a teacher heard a device detonate on campus Thursday night. Sources tell Channel Six News that the teacher confronted Dakota Parsons after he was seen running from the scene shortly after the explosion.

Friday, authorities were called to investigate.

During the “bomb squads” investigation Friday, Sergeant Matt Manhart explained his unit used a device called the Ahura “First Defender” Laser to investigate the explosive materials in question. Omaha Police are forced to borrow one of two of the devices from the FBI. Eventually, Sergeant Manhart said he would like his team to have its own set.

"Put that unknown powder or that unknown liquid in there and then be able to place it into the machine,” Sergeant Manhart said.

The “First Defender” Laser looked like a device that you could spot in a spy movie. "It allows us to test unknown powders or unknown liquids,” Sergeant Manhart said. Manhart equated it to a field sobriety test for explosive materials.

The Bomb Response Unit borrowed the device from the FBI on Friday at Westside, after Manhart’s team was called to investigate the questionable explosive materials found inside Dakota Parson’s backpack and home.

"At Westside it was the same thing, I don't know how this student mixed these chemicals, and therefore I can't be handling them a lot,” Manhart said.

Sergeant Manhart couldn’t speculate into Parson’s motives or why the teen had the materials in his possession, only that Sgt. Manhart credited the Westside teacher for notifying enough people early on, to prevent serious injuries.

Sadly, Sgt. Manhart said Friday wasn’t the first time he dealt with chemicals and explosive components mixed together.

It was in March of this past year that Sgt. Manhart said Brad Vanzago was working with fireworks, other explosive materials and chemicals. The house near 79th and Himebaugh Avenue erupted in a fireball after Sgt. Manhart said Vanzago accidentally cased the explosion.

Vanzago died.

Tuesday, Sgt. Manhart hoped enough people would become aware of just how dangerous the situation at Westside High School could have been. Emphasizing, incidents like it need to be stopped sooner, rather than later.

Sgt. Manhart said it was also important for parents to speak up if they see something out of the ordinary. In other words, no chemistry teacher would send their student home to mix six or seven chemicals in an uncontrolled environment.

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