BAKERSFIELD, Calif. – A group of children were playing with a military shell given to them by a neighbor before the device exploded, killing a young boy and girl, police and witnesses said Wednesday.
Bakersfield police said there have been no arrests or charges in the case and are still trying to determine what caused the shell to detonate Tuesday, damaging homes and forcing neighbors to wrap bloodied and dazed children in blankets.
"As you can imagine, this was a traumatic experience for the kids and their parents. So it's going to take a while to sort things out," said Bakersfield Police Detective Greg Terry.
Five other children, the oldest 12 years old, had injuries ranging from minor to moderate. Police initially reported that six children were injured but later determined that an 8-year-old girl thought to be hurt was not at the scene when the shell exploded.
Frank Sendejo, who lives near the complex where the explosion occurred, confirmed Wednesday that he had given a group of children a 40 mm shell. Bakersfield police said they've talked to Sendejo.
Sendejo told The Bakersfield Californian that he thought the shell was spent and often used it as a "conversation piece." He said the firing pin and bottom shell casing had been removed, along with the gun powder inside.
"I thought it was harmless," he told the newspaper.
Tyvia Holloway, 10, remained in the Kern Medical Center's trauma unit on Wednesday.
Her mother, Sherlicia Owens, said Tyvia had a hole in her back and shrapnel from the device in her side, cheek and arms. Doctors are trying to determine if the girl will need plastic surgery.
Monique Salmon, 20, spent Wednesday afternoon cleaning up dust and debris in her living room and kitchen left by the explosion. She said the blast left quarter-sized holes in her walls.
Bakersfield police said their bomb squad has contacted federal and military agencies for assistance.