Authorities detonate bomb training device in Zachary

Unit discovered in storage building

Updated at

9:37 p.m.

Authorities in Zachary detonated an apparent non-explosive bomb training device Saturday night that the owner of a storage building off La. 19 discovered earlier in the day while doing some maintenance with his grandson.

The suspicious find prompted agencies to evacuate about a dozen nearby households and shut down about a half-mile of La. 19 north of Pride-Port Hudson Road most of the day Saturday until robots were able to safely extract the tool, which looked like a briefcase, so bomb squads could safely detonate it, said Zachary Police Chief David McDavid.

Bomb squads from the FBI, the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office and the Baton Rouge Police Department responded to Advanced Mini Storage shortly after 2 p.m. Saturday afternoon in response to the suspicious package.

Jimmy Baker, the building’s owner, said the unit’s renter hadn’t made a payment in months, prompting Baker to double-lock the unit in July.

On Saturday afternoon, he decided to cut his own locks to find out if the unit had anything inside.

“I thought maybe the unit was empty,” Baker said.

Instead, he and his 22-year-old grandson found lots of furniture — and a brief case with at least one latch open.

“My grandson said, ‘I wonder what’s in there,’” Baker recalled. “It looked like a home-made bomb.”

Baker immediately called 911, and it took authorities several hours to safely locate, extract and detonate the device.

“All I know is I got my storage back,” Baker said.

McDavid said detectives located the unit’s renter — a retired law enforcement agent — in East Feliciana Parish late Saturday.

Investigators were working Saturday night to determine why the renter had the device, although they suspected that he might have done bomb technician work in the past, McDavid said.