Man arrested after illegal firework damages home

December 27, 2011 2:02:50 PM PST
A 48-year-old man has been arrested for felony possession of a destructive device after a firework malfunctioned and damaged a house and car in San Leandro on Friday night, police said Tuesday.

The incident occurred around 8:45 p.m. Friday, when a man who lives in the 800 block of Crespi Drive reported that he had heard an explosion and then an object came through his window, police Lt. Jeff Tudor said.

An officer who came to the man's home saw the damaged window as well as a piece of cast iron shrapnel lying on the victim's carpet, Tudor said.

When the officer conducted a search of the area he spotted a vehicle that had its tire punctured by shrapnel, Tudor said.

The shrapnel traveled with such force that it went through the tire and came to rest in the vehicle's interior, he said.

A third victim had a piece of shrapnel travel through a garage door, through an interior wall of his house and come to rest in the sheets of an unoccupied bed, according to Tudor.

After investigating the matter, police contacted Anthony Bettiga at his residence in the 15100 block of Fleming Street and arrested him after determining he was responsible for the explosion that caused the damage, Tudor said.

He said it appears that Bettiga was visiting relatives in the area of the 800 block of Crespi Drive and attempted to shoot off a high-powered firework inside a large cylinder tube made of iron but the firework malfunctioned and exploded in the iron tube, causing it to fragment.

The Alameda County Sheriff's Office bomb squad responded to the scene and conducted a post-blast investigation as well as a search of Bettiga's home but didn't locate any suspicious explosive devices or materials, Tudor said.

He said, "This could have been a tragic incident" and Bettiga and area residents "are extremely fortunate that nobody was seriously or fatally wounded."

Tudor said, "It goes to show how dangerous and volatile illegal fireworks can be, especially in the hands of somebody who is acting irresponsibly."

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