Wendy Conant, investigator with the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office, takes photos of the vehicle that was damaged by an explosion, possibly by a chemical bomb at a home in the Baywood neighborhood of Bluffton.(Photo: Drew Martin, The Island Packet)
Anyone with information about the incident should call the Beaufort County Dispatch Center at 843-524-2777.
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A homemade chemical concoction in a soda bottled placed in an SUV damaged the windshield when it exploded in the car, which was parked at a Bluffton residence, sometime between Sunday night and Monday morning, authorities say.
Beaufort County sheriff's deputies are searching for suspects, witnesses and motives.
The owner of a white Hyundai SUV parked on Juniper Lane in the Baywood neighborhood discovered the cracked windshield just after 9:30 a.m. Monday and smelled chemicals coming from the car.
The vehicle had been left unlocked overnight, meaning the chemical device could have been placed inside anytime after about 10 p.m. Sunday, according to Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Sgt. Robin McIntosh.
The Bluffton Township Fire District sent firefighters in full protective equipment to quarantine the area after seeing the remains of the chemical explosion, Capt. Randy Hunter said. He said no harmful chemicals leaked into the air and that the substances posed no additional threat to public safety.
The investigation was then handed over to law enforcement.
The Sheriff's Office Bomb Squad and the Beaufort County HazMat team collected evidence from the exploded soda bottle throughout the day.
Investigators said the mixture appeared to be made of household chemicals, but the Sheriff's Office declined to be more specific, citing a fear of inspiring copycats.
The device is not being called a bomb because it was not incendiary, McIntosh said.
No one was injured by the explosion, and the car had mainly cosmetic damage, McIntosh said.
"There wasn't a lot of significant damage inside," McIntosh said. "It could have caused injury to a person if they were in close proximity to it, especially if some of the chemicals were caustic."
Investigators have also not been able to find anyone who witnessed the explosion and continue to search for suspects.