STOCKTON, Calif. (KTXL) — Two men were arrested and charged Monday on suspicion of throwing an explosive device at a group gathering for a funeral in Stockton.
San Joaquin County sheriff’s deputies and FBI agents removing guns and explosive devices while houses were evacuated is not what people who live on Sonoma Avenue were expecting to see.
“It’s kind of scary, actually, especially the not knowing why it’s going on is kind of disturbing, I guess,” neighbor Elaine Diaz-Miller told FOX40.
Diaz-Miller, who’s lived in the neighborhood for four years, said the commotion started Sunday night.
“I seen police officers in the street. I thought it was just a traffic stop-type thing, but then this morning when I got up, I seen there was still police officers out there,” Diaz-Miller recalled.
Deputies said the home they searched was frequented by 50-year-old James Towles.
On Saturday, deputies said they identified Towles as the person who threw an explosive device at a group of people at his community church on Alpine and Delaware avenues.
The intended victims were attending church for a funeral, deputies said.
Deputies said they believe 65-year-old Russell Altheide, who allegedly lived at the home, was Towles’ accomplice.
“Luckily, no one was hurt in that initial crime and no major injuries,” said San Joaquin County Deputy public information officer Alan Sanchez.
Deputies said Towles knew the people at the funeral and they don’t believe the act was domestic terrorism.
On Sunday, deputies spotted Towles.
“Tried to pull them over, a pursuit started. And from there going around some of the blocks in this area the suspect rear-ended a truck and that’s where the pursuit ended,” Sanchez explained.
The crash happened in the area of Ryde and Alpine avenues. Deputies said the passengers in the truck had minor injuries and are being checked by medical professionals.
During their investigation, deputies found another explosive device in the suspects’ car, which led them to search three locations Towles was known to frequent.
At the home on Sonoma Avenue, bomb squad deputies found items they deemed were unsafe and several other homes were evacuated.
“We contacted the FBI because they have equipment that we don’t have access to. Because of their equipment, that allows us to work safer in this area when you’re working with items that could be used as explosives,” Sanchez explained.
Diaz-Miller said she never suspected anything illegal going on in the home.
“They looked like they might be hunters, you know, with the trailers that they have there sometimes. But other than that, it’s never anything that raised an eyebrow to me,” Diaz-Miller said.
Deputies said they are not requiring neighbors to leave their homes for now but are just advising evacuation.
Authorities said they’ll likely be active in the area all Monday night and into Tuesday.
This story is developing. Check back with FOX40 for updates.