Police seeking felony charges against student “pop” bomber

The WKU Police Department is seeking felony charges against a student suspect behind numerous water bottle “pop” devices.

Mandi Johnson, WKUPD public information officer, said the devices are made by placing chemicals that later explode inside a water bottle.

Johnson said the bottles have been dubbed “pop” devices by the department due to the loud gunshot sound they produce upon explosion.

Over the past week at least two reported cases of these devices detonating have occurred in the Pearce Ford Tower area of campus, each incident eliciting a response from WKUPD.

Memphis, Tenn., freshman Austin Vincent said he witnessed these explosions multiple times.

Vincent said at first people around the PFT courtyard assumed the loud popping sound was from a firecracker going off.

“It wasn’t until the second night that people, they figured out they were actually bombs,” Vincent said.

Johnson said these devices shouldn’t be taken lightly.

“This isn’t just a noise maker,” Johnson said. “There are potentially harmful chemicals in the mixture inside the bottle.”

During the second incident, Vincent was inside the PFT food court.

“It sounded like a gunshot inside Popeye’s,” Vincent said. “People thought someone like, got shot at out here.”

When he went out into the courtyard after hearing the explosion, police were already on the scene, Vincent said.

“On the second night, there were all of these cops out because they had broken up some fights,” Vincent said. “So I’m surprised it happened in front of all of these different cops.”

Columbia freshman Leslie Wolford was in the courtyard when the pop went off.

“It blew up right behind us,” Wolford said.

Wolford said immediately after the explosion, police started to clear the scene.

“They made us get out of the courtyard,” she said. “They were like, ‘everyone get out.’”

After the area was cleared, Wolford watched as they started searching for the source of the bang.

“They got out gloves and picked up everything,” Wolford said.

Vincent said during other times he witnessed things detonating, it’s been difficult to spot the devices.

He said that the amount of trash around the courtyard makes it hard to spot something that could explode.

“You’ll be sitting here, along the wall and then all of the sudden a piece of trash just explodes,” he said.

Johnson said that the department isn’t releasing what chemicals were used to make the devices, because the department didn’t want to make the information public.

She advised students not go near the area of the device’s explosion, and said that three students are reported to have been injured by the devices.

The police department is currently going through the commonwealth attorney’s office to press felony charges against the student suspect.