Three charged with setting off explosives

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By Tris DeRoma


Police think they recently solved a local mystery when they arrested a Los Alamos man and two teenagers in the Oro Court neighborhood Saturday. 

The three were allegedly setting off homemade explosives near their homes according to police. For weeks, police kept getting calls from neighbors in the area complaining of what sounded like gunshots. It wasn’t until Saturday when they got another call and they may have finally solved the mystery. 

At about 6 p.m. Saturday, police received a call from a neighbor complaining of hearing “gunshots” so close, the percussion from the blasts shook her house and set off her wind chimes. 

When police arrived, they headed in the general direction the complainant said the blasts came from. While patrolling the area, they noticed two teenaged boys dumping what appeared to be bent/burnt metal and plastic debris into recycling containers. When they were told to stop, the youths at first ignored them, only stopping when police issued a second command. 

That was when an adult male approached them, later identified as Michael Calhoun. When asked about the explosions, he at first, according to police, allegedly tried to deny it, saying “No, we were just messing around.”

In the recycling bin and a nearby section of road, police collected bits of aluminum foil, what was left of the bottles and what appeared to be a type of drain-cleaning fluid. One of the teens then admitted that they were making the bombs. 

Calhoun also admitted to helping the boys, saying it was “just science.” He also said that he did not know what they were doing was illegal, and was just supervising the boys, according to the police report.

Calhoun was arrested and charged with negligent use of explosive and two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. 

The two boys were also charged with one count each of negligent use of explosives. Calhoun later bonded out of the detention center and the teens were released and referred to juvenile authorities.

When the police asked the boys about the incident, they said it was the first time they set off the bombs and that they did not know about any of the prior incidents in the area.

The police report listed Calhoun as working at the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

The lab released the following statement about Calhoun. “Michael Calhoun is employed by the laboratory,” the statement said. 

“His employment is not associated in any way with energetic materials work.  Being accused of a crime does not necessarily result in disciplinary actions by the laboratory. Due to privacy issues, specific personnel actions are not made public.”

According to his Linked In page, Calhoun is an IT project manager at LANL.

I find this article upsetting, and think it may be unfair.

Mike Calhoun is a respected member of the community and this attention grabbing headline seems unfair and unwarranted. Mike Calhoun has been active in the Boyscouts, parenting, and as a lab employee. My family also bought the book "Backyard Ballistics" to help interest our teens in science, and thank goodness we never tried any of the experiments! I feel like we are living in a police state when nice people like Mike are charged with crimes for doing science projects with kids. Granted, the noise in the neighborhood was not wise, but lack of judgement is not criminal behavior! And helping kids learn science is considered contributing to the delinquency of a minor? Wow.