PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Philadelphia Police, the Philadelphia Fire Marshal’s Office, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives are investigating four explosive device detonations at local businesses in the last two weeks.
The latest blast, around 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, occurred inside a beer distributor at Jasper Street and East Allegheny Avenue in Kensington.
“I just heard a big boom, and I almost, like, fell off my seat,” said neighbor Luisa Moreno.
Philadelphia Police Capt. Sekou Kinebrew says the homemade devices appear to be made by stuffing a cardboard tube with a flammable element and a wick.
“If the objective, which we believe it is, is to breach the compartment where the money is held, this doesn’t work so stop,” he said.
Authorities now have a 34-year-old woman in custody in connection to the latest explosion, though she has not yet been formally charged.
“We believe she’s the person who actually set that device in the dispenser and the device that ultimately detonated,” he said.
Surveillance video from inside the store shows the woman leaving something inside the dispenser and leaving shortly before the device detonates.
They also need help identifying a man, who they believe may be an accomplice.
Meantime, investigators are working to figure out if there’s any connection between three other recent incidents.
On June 8, a device detonated on a public ATM outside of Cinderella Cleaners on the 3900 block of North 9th Street.
On June 18, on the 700 block of East Thayer Street, there was no ATM, but the suspects threw a homemade explosive, known as a “quarter stick,” into a Chinese takeout shop.
“It’s an M-type device which basically means crude and homemade,” Kinebrew said.
On June 19, an explosive device blasted open an ATM by Porky’s Point on the 3800 block of North 5th Street.
“The whole front of the box was blown open and the sides look like they were all burnt up,” said Matt Maldonado.
Authorities say it’s incredibly lucky no one was hurt in any of these blasts. They also add that the suspects didn’t get away with cash in any of these incidents. If you have any information on who is responsible, call the tip line at 215-686-TIPS.