Explosives Found Near Kansas Statehouse Amid Immigration Hearings

An alert state employee in Kansas likely helped save lives.

The employee noticed a pickup parked in a restricted lot outside the Kansas Judicial Center, south of the Statehouse, without the required state worker tag.

When officers looked inside the vehicle, they spotted suspicious objects inside, including an empty gun holster, and authorities called in the Topeka Police Department's bomb squad.

Capitol Police spokesman Patrick Saleh said the homemade explosives were made with household materials and designed to spray shrapnel once they were detonated. He didn't have further details, but called them "actual explosives."

The pickup incident, as well as a phoned-in threat to Kansas Gov. Brownback's office, came the same day a Kansas House committee opened three days of hearings on several bills designed to crack down on illegal immigration, backed by Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a former law professor who helped draft tough laws in Alabama and Arizona.

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Kobach is serving as an adviser to GOP frontrunner presidential candidate Mitt Romney on the issue of immigration.

Authorities said the pickup incident and the phoned-in threat were not connected to each other.

The pickup had specialty license plates issued only to U.S. military paratroopers, and police said they arrested the owner inside an underground tunnel connecting the Capitol to an office building.

Of the suspects in both the explosives and phoned-in threat incident, police said: "Neither one of them was armed, and neither of them offered any resistance.”

Saleh said neither arrest was connected to a coinciding rally at the Statehouse that was protesting policies pursued by Brownback, Kobach and other Republican officials.

The other man was arrested at a Motel 6 in Topeka within minutes of making calls to Brownback's office Wednesday morning and is being held in the local jail on suspicion of harassment by telephone, Saleh said.

He is 37 and has no permanent address, but his last known home was in Missouri, which is next to Kansas.

Saleh said the man told officers he was planning to move to Salina, about 100 miles west of Topeka, but authorities couldn't find an address for him there.

Saleh said the governor's office pinpointed his location through caller ID. He described the man as "ranting" but said his comments were threatening enough for Brownback's staff to call authorities.

The governor's office referred calls about the incident to the Kansas Highway Patrol, which oversees the Capitol Police.

This story contains material from The Associated Press.

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