The plot thickens around the “explosion” or whatever it was at the East Precinct last weekend. After something/someone caused damage to the building, the cops declared the protest a riot. But what exactly was the nature of the damage and where did it come from? Police will only say that the investigation is ongoing, but they’re claiming it was a “firework.”
That doesn’t quite square with people who know fireworks, though. After we posted some speculation about what might’ve happened, a person who handles professional fireworks got in touch to offer their expertise. The short version: It was probably something much smaller.
“That is a TINY hole for explosives in lightweight material,” writes our expert (who asked not to be identified). Professional fireworks usually have two explosions, one to lift it into the air and another that bursts with glowing stars. Even small fireworks are hard to hold onto, and big ones are basically impossible to run around with and aim.
“That, combined with no burns from the ‘stars’ says to me that explosion wasn't a professional firework,” our expert writes by email.
So the lack of burns and the smallness of the hole suggest that it wasn’t a firework. It probably also wasn’t a flashbang or salute, which would have left a larger hole, and that likely rules out a police stun grenade — those tend to be larger and cause much more damage. “I'd expect one of those in that confined space to make a much bigger dent in the wall,” our expert says.
The expert’s best guess: Maybe it was a large consumer-grade firecracker, which like bottle rockets are illegal in Washington state unless you’re on tribal land. (And yes, really ALL of Washington is tribal land, but that’s not a point that the fire marshall is able to do anything about.)
Someone could have thrown a firecracker at the station, and with incredible luck, got it wedged into the tiny gap between the plywood and the window. Of course, a firecracker-attack just isn’t as exciting as a full-fledged bomb, and makes the SPD’s spraying of protestors with chemical weapons seem a little disproportionate.
At any rate, the police say that they witnessed what led up to the explosion, though they haven’t said WHAT they witnessed. We’ve put in a public records request for any reports or video that SPD might have. Their estimated timeline to respond: Six months to a year. Great job!