COLORADO CITY, Ariz. - Federal agents are investigating an explosion that destroyed a pickup truck. Local residents said the blast was intentional and is the latest in a string of intimidation tactics.
The truck belongs to David Stubbs, a former member of the FLDS church. Officials with the Mohave County sheriff’s office said they believe it happened on a remote area of the Stubbs’ property sometime between Friday, September 19 and Sunday, September 21. No one was injured when the truck blew up. It had been sitting unattended in a remote area of the property for several days.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives investigated the blast. Phoenix area spokesperson Tom Mangan said investigators didn’t find any shrapnel, which leads them to believe it wasn’t a bomb.
“Based on the amount of damage and during the course of the post blast investigation, it was clear to investigators that some sort of commercial explosive material was used,” Mangan said.
ATF agents took samples from the truck and will have it analyzed to determine what kind of material was used. They’re also checking with commercial retailers to try and track down who may have access to that kind of explosive material. But Mangan said it’s not uncommon for them to be found in rural areas.
“Commercial explosives are used in the course of ranching activity to remove stumps, rocks, obstructions to waterways,” Mangan said.
The explosion completely destroyed the older model Dodge truck, blowing a hole in the engine and launching the hood shell more than 100 feet.
This isn’t the first time there has been hostility toward families who have left the FLDS Church. Last year, residents in Colorado City reported fires on their property and gas tanks filled with sugar. It has put former members on edge.
“I’m very concerned for [my children’s] welfare,” said Ross Chatwin. “And I don’t know what they have in mind exactly, why they’re doing it.”
Chatwin said the tension among neighbors has grown since FLDS leader Warren Jeffs became incarcerated, and he believes the retaliation has to do with the state becoming involved in the financial trust that manages the lands previously owned by the FLDS Church. Chatwin said it’s gotten so bad that many families have considered leaving, but he said that would be giving in.
“They’d get it all,” Chatwin said. “We lose, they win. And that’s been an object we’ve had for a very long time, to not let that happen.”
Investigators are asking for the public’s help in finding the person or people responsible for the truck explosion. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Mohave County Sheriff’s Office at 800-522-4312 or Silent Witness, an anonymous tip line at 888-227-8780. Silent Witness is offering a reward up to $750.00 for information leading to and arrest and conviction.