Scientologist faces trial for car bombing

April 6, 1996

Reprinted without permission from the Bakersfield Californian, Saturday April 6, 1996

Bomb suspect must stand trial

The ex-Marine is accused of blowing up his van and shooting at police.

By CHRIS HARRISON Californian staff writer

Bombing suspect David lee Enteman was out of his bandages and back in court Friday, where he was bound over for trial on arson, assault on a peace officer and bomb charges.

Enteman, the ex-Marine police beleive blew up his van Feb. 9 -- setting himself afire and flinging metal shards over two city blocks -- was represented by two Southern California attorneys retained by his father.

The Bend, Ore., man was shackled and thin; he bore the bright pink marks of a burn victim on his neck and wore therapeutic gloves on his healing hands.

He and his father, Don Enteman, consulted earnestly with defense attorney Richard S. Plotin, who argued there was insufficient evidence to prove Enteman shot at officers or intended to blow anything up.

Still, Municipal Court Commissioner Patrick M. Alderete found sufficienct cause to try Enteman on seven bomb, arson and assault charges including: assult with a deadly weapon on a peace officer, felony resisting arrest, aggravated arson, possession of a destructive device near a school or public place, and wrongful possession of a destructive device with intent to injure or intimidate another person.

A second charge of assault on a police officer was dropped after Plotin argued no evidence showed Enteman had tried to shoot a second officer early that foggy morning.

Alderete upheld the first charge -- that Enteman fired a shot at police, narrowly missing officer Sonja Foley -- despite defense implications that witnesses didn't actually see Enteman fire the shots.

"I think it's highly unlikely that anybody else was taking shots at them at 2 a.m. in themorning," was the dry retort of prosecutor John S. Somers.

Alderete reviewed evidence and testimony from three police officers and a BPD [Bakersfield Police Department] bomb squad expert who testified Enteman was first contacted by police Feb. 9 when a security guard reported a "suspicious" looking van he thought might have stolen goods inside.

Officers responded at 2:10 a.m., finding Enteman lying on a cot in his blue, older model van, with a Rottweiller and collie inside. Officers testified they asked him to step out of the van, but he sped away, setting off a search through the dense fog that ended on Nordic Drive near West High School, where the van was found parked.

At least two shots were fired at officers who stopped behind the parked van, before Special Weapons and Tactic Team members showd up to wait the suspect out, officers testified.

An ensuing two-hour standoff climzxed when witnesses saw flames inside the van, shortly before Enteman got out and ran away with his clothes smouldering. The van exploded seconds later, from what bomb experts testified was a volatile mix of ammunition and home-made bomb supplies.

Bakersfield police bomb squad member Scott Tunnicliffe testified that fragments of Mason jars, pipe bombs, pages from a bomb-making manual and other chemicals were scattered around the explosion scene.

While Tuncliffe testified a nearby condominium sustained "severe structural damage" in teh blast and several nearby apartments were peppered with metal shards and shattered glass, only Enteman was injured in the blast.

Detectives believe Enteman was a disgruntled Church of Scientology member who was driving to Southern California [with] the intent to harm church officials.

A woman who once dated the defendant told detectives that Enteman "felt (church members) were involved in the programming and deprogramming of his mind," Tunnicliffe testified.


[ Notes: other news reports stated that the explosives involved were homemade pipe bombs and the familiar fuel oil and fertilizer concoction used for the OKC bombing -- recipies available from an underground bookstore near you.

The suspect suffered serious burns and was hospitalized in Fresno, CA. Pieces of his vehicle were found more than 2 blocks away, in a school playground.

Other reports suggested a failed romance between the bomber and the female head of an "org" in the Los Angeles area. They first met when he did some mechanical work on her car some four years ago. ]

Beebo Brinker SP2


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