COVINGTON - The Newton County Sheriff's Office is investigating the origin of what investigators are calling a "sparkler bomb," which destroyed a mailbox at a residence on Atla Road on Sunday.
According to Investigator Mickey Kitchens, deputies were called to the scene about 12:45 a.m. Witnesses told them they had seen a black car with its lights turned off parked near the mailbox just after midnight. When it left, the mailbox exploded.
Deputy Steven Ledford completed an incident report, which said the mailbox was "turned inside out and off of the post. The back of the mailbox was in the front yard of (a residence) approximately 100 feet from the post."
The remnants of the device have been sent to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Crime Lab for analysis. The U.S. Postal Service has also been notified.
Kitchens said a sparkler bomb is constructed by tightly binding several sparklers together and using an additional sparkler for a fuse.
"It can be very dangerous, especially if someone was standing close by. If it's put in a mailbox, there can be shrapnel that comes off from that or off of the wires from the sparklers themselves," Kitchens said. "It can definitely injure someone, and if they're standing close enough, the concussion itself can be big enough to hurt someone."
Kitchens said there had been two other similar incidents at or near the Atla Road residence that was apparently targeted this time.
"The first one was not reported to law enforcement to my knowledge," he said. "The second one was reported the Saturday before Memorial Day." He said that device was placed in the roadway at a nearby stop sign.
Kitchens said that while all avenues of investigation will be followed, he thinks the incident may be "just kids trying to pull practical jokes."
Consequences, however, can be serious and charges of possession of a destructive or explosive device can be brought against the perpetrator.
Barbara Knowles can be reached at email@example.com.