Explosives prompt evacuation in Santa Cruz

May 20, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
People in one beachside neighborhood were finally allowed back in their homes late Wednesday night. Their neighbor's fascination with fireworks and dangerous explosives forced them to be evacuated twice in the past 24 hours.

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Police say they've collected 1,500 pounds of fireworks-making materials from a home in Santa Cruz's Pleasure Point neighborhood. The streets opened up around 9 p.m., but one area was still off limits. Investigators gathered evidence at the suspect's house for hours.

The amount of evidence coming from the house on 25th Avenue continued to grow throughout the night. Bags of explosive material and compounds were gathered and taken far away from the quiet Santa Cruz neighborhood. Investigators say what they found inside Stanley Vallelunga's house was a danger to everyone.

"It's always a concern when we have mixtures. Once they become intertwined, they can become explosive on contact," said Lt. Robert Pursley with the Santa Cruz County Bomb Squad.

They believe the long-time resident had hundreds of pounds of explosive material to make fireworks. Neighbors say he set off his home made creations, day and night.

"He's the famous Stanley, who blows up cherry bombs in the middle of the street while children are trying to sleep and the dogs are screaming bloody murder," said homeowner Rym Partridge.

"It wakes us all up at night," said neighbor Kristy Nelson.

It has been going on for years and it's been begrudgingly tolerated by most, but having this development they say is unacceptable.

"What could have happened? Now I feel safe that they've uncovered it and taking care of it, but before it was annoying. Now it's scary that we were in that kind of danger," said Kristy Nelson, a neighbor.

Roughly 50 people were evacuated not once, but twice, after investigators found more and more material. They were alerted on Tuesday after a delivery company called authorities, wondering if Vallelunga had a permit for the large amount of material they were about to drop off, but he didn't.

"He's good people. I guess too much time on his hands I guess," said neighbor David Goins.

It is not illegal to have all of this material, but you do need a permit. The suspect was arrested Tuesday for an unrelated drug charge and is now out on bail. As for this situation, he could be charged with manufacturing fireworks and possession of explosives.

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