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Bottle bomb explosion at Sykesville restaurant leads to four arrests

One man and three teenage boys have been arrested by police in Sykesville after patrons dining outdoors at a restaurant had a homemade explosive device thrown in their direction from a moving vehicle Wednesday night, the Maryland State Fire Marshal announced Friday.

The "soda bottle bomb," a device that explodes after pressure builds up from chemicals placed in an ordinary plastic soda bottle, was launched from the Ford Escape about 9:30 p.m., landing within feet of two diners eating on the outdoor patio of E.W. Beck's restaurant in the 7500 block of the town's Main Street, the fire marshal said.

No one was injured, nor was there property damage, but the fire marshal was called to the scene by Sykesville Police because of the nature of the event.

At the restaurant, the diners identified the Ford Escape, the fire marshal said.

Investigators soon located the vehicle being operated nearby by Kirby Allen Shifflett, 22, who admitted to driving the vehicle at the time the device was thrown from one of its windows, the fire marshal said.

The following day, police identified a 14-year-old boy and two 15-year-old boys who were also in the car at the time of the incident, the fire marshal said. They have not been identified.

Shifflett was charged with manufacturing, possession or distribution of a destructive device; two counts each of first-degree assault, second-degree assault and reckless endangerment; and three counts of contributing to the juveniles being involved in the incident, the fire marshal said.

He remains at the Carroll County Detention Center on $50,000 bond, the fire marshal said.

Each of the teenage boys were charged with manufacturing, possession or distribution of a destructive device; and two counts each of first-degree assault, second-degree assault and reckless endangerment, the fire marshal said.

They have been released to the custody of their parents, the fire marshal said.

The destructive device charges carry a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

"The construction of these devices in this and similar incidents have been misrepresented as pranks, however the destructive effect and potential of serious bodily injury is extremely high," the fire marshal said in a statement.

krector@baltsun.com

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