Southwest Virginia Enterprise, VA
Friday, January 27, 2006
West Franklin Street residents started Friday morning with a bang when law enforcement officers stormed a bungalow they believed to have been operating as a crack house.
Edward Owens, 34, originally of Toledo, Ohio, was arrested and charged with operating a fortified drug house, possession of marijuana and maintaining a public nuisance. Owens had lived in Wytheville for three weeks.
"(We) anticipate there may be some more arrests on this," Sheriff Doug King said.
Owens, who had been sleeping, was the only person at 955 W. Franklin St.
The Wythe County Sheriff's Office, Wytheville Police Department and Virginia State Police participated in the bust, making a forced entry just before dawn.
King said it did not go according to plan. The Sheriff's Office tactical team threw a light-sound device (also known as a "flash-bang") into a front window, intended to emit a disorienting flash of light and an eruptive sound to announce their arrival, but the 1 1/2-pound device didn't break the window.
The house had been fortified with 2x4 pieces of wood, concrete block and bars, King said. The team took the front door off the hinges to gain entry and broke through a window toward the rear of the house and hurled another flash-bang indoors.
The devices usually smoke and smolder, but the second flash-bang was followed by two large "booms." King said he believes that it ignited an unknown accelerant. Flames erupted from the windows and black smoke poured from the front door. He speculated the house might have been booby-trapped.
Apparently it's now illegal to secure your home against burglars. And if the cops burn your house down that's probably your fault too.