Explosives cause Boise Bench evacuations

After an arrest, police find over 100 pounds of hazardous material.

kterhune@idahostatesman.comNovember 7, 2013 

Before investigators confirmed late Wednesday that bomb-making materials were discovered in the crawl space of a Boise Bench house, neighbors of Joshua J. Finch expressed surprise at police reports.

"The guy doesn't seem like he's some kind of explosives expert," said Steve Gregoire, a resident of Columbus Street who lives just a couple of houses away from Finch. "It doesn't seem like he has the capability to do something of that magnitude, but you never know."

Police arrested Finch, 32, around midday on Wednesday, charging him with kidnapping in connection with a family dispute. During the arrest, police say, officers learned that he might have explosives in the home.

The Boise Police Bomb Squad and the Boise Fire Department's hazardous materials team were called to the house, located in the 2200 block of West Dorian Street, southeast of Overland Road and Vista Avenue. They said they found materials that can be highly explosive.

The discovery prompted the voluntary evacuation of 21 homes in the area as Boise police and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives worked to assess and remove the materials.

Late Wednesday, investigators said they found more than 100 pounds of chemicals and other substances in various stages of what appeared to be bomb making. Officials declined to release details of exactly what was found pending review of more charges against Finch, possibly in federal court.

"The amount of the substances and chemicals found did indeed pose a potential safety threat to the neighborhood," Capt. Eugene Smith of the Boise police said in a news release.

Earlier, police spokeswoman Lynn Hightower had said at least one substance was inert by itself but could be an ingredient in an explosive — if it had been mixed with certain chemicals, it would be risky to move.

Many of the residents who evacuated went to stay with family and friends. At least two families turned to the American Red Cross for shelter overnight, according to police. Of the 21 homes, one family chose not to leave, Hightower said. As the investigation continued, police were hopeful that the evacuation would be lifted sometime before midnight.

Shortly before 5 p.m., Gregoire, his wife and two children were debating whether to leave. Gregoire has lived in the neighborhood for eight years but has never talked to Finch. He said he had seen police at Finch's house several times.

"I got a bad vibe from him," Gregoire said.

Aaron Tower, 18, and Kaylee Horn, 17, live at the corner of Jessie and Nez Perce streets, just outside the closure area. In addition to seeing police cars Wednesday morning, they said they saw an officer in the area Tuesday night.

They said that Wednesday morning, police told them the Dorian Street home was "a meth lab or a bomb lab."

"We moved to this neighborhood trying to get away from this kind of stuff," Tower said.

According to online court records, Finch's criminal history includes convictions for battery, driving under the influence and possession of drug paraphernalia. He was charged with robbery and several other offenses in 2006 but pleaded the robbery down to aggravated assault, later violating his probation in that case twice.

He is currently accused in Ada County 4th District Court of disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor. Another Ada case was sealed Wednesday.

No further details regarding Finch's kidnapping charge were available Wednesday. The charge was based on an incident that occurred Monday night, police said. No one was hurt, Hightower said.

"Kidnapping is holding someone against their will, so it's really not an uncommon charge to see in family disputes and domestic disputes," she said.

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The Statesman's Sean Deter contributed to this report.

Katie Terhune: 377-6219

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