Leetonia police battling bottle bombers

LEETONIA, Ohio (WKBN) — Homemade bombs have rattled a small Columbiana County community, especially after law enforcement found out who was behind the bombs.

Leetonia Police Chief John Soldano said this is a very unique situation that could have left people in his small Columbiana County village seriously injured or even dead.

“This is probably one of the scariest situations I have dealt with here in the village of Leetonia,” Soldano said. “We were very fortunate here that we did not have any injury.”

Around 8 p.m. Wednesday, police responded to an incident near the Lutheran Church at Somer Street and Spruce Street. That is where officers found a suspicious swollen water bottle.

“We had to go in and evacuate the church, had to have everybody leave the church, move their cars. We were in fear it was going to explode,” Soldano said.

Hours after police found the bottle near the church, calls started to come in to the police department with leads. That is when the police chief said he was dealt one of the biggest surprises in his 26-year career: A 7-year-old and 10-year-old were behind the bottles and up to five children overall may have been involved.

Officers said at least a half dozen bottle bombs exploded and one was found still in tact.

“This was all a game to them. They never thought one bit about how dangerous this could really be,” Soldano said.

Officers said they hope to have formal charges filed by early next week, but they need to talk to the juvenile prosecutor’s office first.

“We’re dealing with a 10-year-old and a 7-year-old and that will probably complicate the judicial system,” the chief said.

Soldano said they will look into pressing charges against the children’s guardians. They also believe a 13-year-old or 14-year-old may have taught the young kids how to make the explosives.

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