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Iowa Student Accused Of Making Explosive Device

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(credit: Larry W. Smith/Getty Images)

(credit: Larry W. Smith/Getty Images)

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STORM LAKE, Iowa (AP) — A student at a small private university in northwest Iowa made a homemade explosive device that detonated near a campus residence hall, but no one was injured, authorities said Wednesday.

Storm Lake police arrested Matthew Hanson, 21, of Villisca, on Tuesday after the device detonated Monday night at Buena Vista University in Storm Lake. The university reported the small explosion Tuesday because they couldn’t immediately determine whether the loud noise heard around 10:30 p.m. about 10 feet from Swope Hall was an explosion.

The detonation spread broken glass and debris in an area approximately 15 feet in diameter, but police said there was no property damage. Assistant Chief Todd Erskine said he could not provide more information about the circumstance behind the detonation, but he said it was not accidental.

“He intentionally set this device off,” Erskine said.

Police confirmed that Hanson was a student and a member of the university’s ROTC program, but they declined to release any more details about him or comment on his possible motive.

Police allege Hanson made the device with a flameless heater from a military “Meals Ready to Eat” kit and placed it in a glass bottle. A chemical reaction detonated the device. Police said they have searched Hanson’s dorm room and vehicle for evidence as part of the investigation.

“It appears in our investigation that this incident was the result of an incredibly irresponsible and dangerous idea the student had Monday evening,” Public Safety Director Mark Prosser said in a news release.

Prosser stressed there was no evidence linking the incident to the Boston Marathon explosions earlier Monday.

Hanson is charged with possession of an explosive device and reckless use of an explosive device. He is being held at the Buena Vista County Jail on a $3,000 bond. Records do not list an attorney for Hanson.

Officials for the university, a private four-year college with about 900 students at its Storm Lake campus, said they are cooperating with authorities. They alerted the campus community Tuesday afternoon about the incident.

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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