PACHECO (BCN) — Investigators believe that a 40-year-old homeless woman who was arrested in Pacheco on Tuesday on suspicion of possessing five pipe bombs may have intended to use them to injure people, a Central Contra County Costa Narcotic Enforcement Team commander said.

The team received a tip Tuesday from a citizen who said that the suspect, Debra Cole, had an explosive device and was in the Pacheco area, enforcement team Cmdr. Norm Wielsch said Wednesday.

Officers from the team called a Contra Costa County sheriff’s patrol deputy who works in the area. Within an hour, the deputy found Cole at a storage facility at 95 First Avenue North in Pacheco.

Around 12:15 p.m. Tuesday, enforcement team agents arrived at the storage facility and contacted Cole at her locker, Wielsch said.

Cole allegedly gave the agents permission to search her locker, where they found a backpack containing four pipe bombs, Wielsch said.

They also found a fifth, smaller pipe bomb inside the locker, along with evidence that allegedly links Cole to the devices, he said.

Cole was arrested and taken to county jail in Martinez.

Agents evacuated the area and called in the Walnut Creek bomb squad, which used robots to retrieve the backpack and detonate the bombs.

While the devices were being rendered safe, air traffic from Buchanan Field Airport was restricted and the California Highway Patrol stopped southbound traffic on Interstate 680 six times, once during the detonation of each bomb and once because of an equipment malfunction, Wielsch said.

Investigators later determined that at least one of the bombs contained shards of broken glass, which agents believe indicates that they were intended to be used to hurt people, Wielsch said.

Agents were still investigating the purpose of the pipe bombs Wednesday.

Two other people were also arrested at the locker for unrelated drug charges, but later released after investigators confirmed that they had nothing to do with the bombs.

The narcotic enforcement team is managed by the California Department of Justice, Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement and is made up of agents from Pleasant Hill, Martinez, San Ramon, Danville, Walnut Creek, Pittsburg and Clayton police departments as well as the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office, the CHP, the FBI and the Contra Costa County Probation Department.

(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Bay City News contributed to this report.)


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