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Brule Co. officials detonate homemade bomb

PUKWANA -- Law enforcement officials in Brule County detonated a homemade explosive device Friday, which was found in a rural Pukwana home. At about 1 p.m., members of the Brule County Sheriff's Office, Chamberlain Police Department, Chamberlain-...

The Brule County Sheriff's Office, Chamberlain Police Department, South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation and Chamberlain-Oacoma Fire Department detonated a homemade explosive device Friday at Brule Bottom, north of Chamberlain. (Photo courtesy of the Chamberlain Police Department)
The Brule County Sheriff's Office, Chamberlain Police Department, South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation and Chamberlain-Oacoma Fire Department detonated a homemade explosive device Friday at Brule Bottom, north of Chamberlain. (Photo courtesy of the Chamberlain Police Department)

PUKWANA - Law enforcement officials in Brule County detonated a homemade explosive device Friday, which was found in a rural Pukwana home.

At about 1 p.m., members of the Brule County Sheriff's Office, Chamberlain Police Department, Chamberlain-Oacoma Fire Department and South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation coalesced at Brule Bottom, a public hunting area about seven miles north of Chamberlain, to detonate the device, according to Chamberlain Police Chief Joe Hutmacher.

The explosive was located at about 9 p.m. Wednesday at a home in rural Pukwana when the sheriff's office and police department searched the residence looking for Donald Pickner, 42, of Pukwana.

The officers didn't find Pickner, but they did find the explosive device in Pickner's room, Hutmacher said.

"I wouldn't say it's common, but we've seen it before," Hutmacher said.

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DCI was called in to "counteract the device," said Sara Rabern, public information officer for the South Dakota Attorney General's Office. Rabern declined to comment further, as Pickner has yet to be arrested as of 4 p.m. Monday.

Five firefighters from the Chamberlain-Oacoma Fire Department were on scene for the detonation as a precautionary measure, but Fire Chief Kurt Kelsey said the incident was good experience for his crew.

"It was definitely a new experience for us. There's no doubt about that," Kelsey said. "It showed us what to look for, just in case we're in a house or something like that ... It was very good training for us."

Authorities remained at Brule Bottom for about an hour, Hutmacher said.

Pickner has yet to be located, and Hutmacher didn't know of any pending charges at this time. But Pickner is set to be sentenced on a federal charge of possession of firearms after a prior felony conviction, court documents state.

According to court documents, Pickner pleaded guilty on June 20 in Sioux Falls to possession of four handguns of varying calibers, dated March 18, 2015. Charges of possession of stolen firearms and possession of firearms as "an unlawful user of a controlled substance" were dismissed.

Pickner was scheduled to be sentenced on Friday but did not appear in court, court documents state. A bench warrant was issued.

The charge that led to the search of Pickner's residence on Wednesday was not immediately available, and the Brule County sheriff could not be reached for comment.

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As Pickner has yet to be located, Hutmacher said he doesn't know what Pickner intended to do with the bomb, but the discovery led to an "interesting" experience.

"It wasn't my typical afternoon in the office," Hutmacher said.

Related Topics: CRIME
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