Police said a suspicious device was found outside St. John’s Episcopal Church in Lakeport Sunday, June 26, 2022. (Lakeport Police Department)

Homemade bomb found outside Lake County church leads to evacuation, arrest

While taking out the trash after Sunday morning service at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Lakeport, a gardener found a homemade bomb in the bushes, prompting an evacuation of the neighborhood and an arrest, authorities said.

Kayden Daniel Collins, 27, of Lakeport, was arrested Sunday on suspicion of possessing a destructive device. He was placed in the Lake County Jail and his bail was set at $10,000.

At about 11 a.m., the gardener at the church on North Forbes Street noticed a strange object in the bushes. When he removed it, he realized it was an “improvised explosive device” and called police, said Lakeport Police Lt. Dale Stoebe.

When officers saw the device, they realized it may have been a working bomb. They immediately evacuated nearby residents and cordoned off the potential blast area, Stoebe said.

The Napa County Sheriff’s Office bomb unit responded. With the help of a bomb-disposal robot, they disabled and inspected the device.

“It wasn’t the best construction, but all the elements were there to potentially burn,” Stoebe said.

While processing the scene, police were directed to Collins, Stoebe said.

Stoebe declined to comment on why Collins became a suspect, saying the department would not release any additional information as it could jeopardize the investigation.

Police believe Collins is not the only person involved in creating the device and they will investigate more suspects, Stoebe said.

Police don’t know if the church was a target, what the motive was or if it was just “stupid people doing stupid things,” but they aren’t ruling out the possibility that it was a targeted incident, Stoebe said.

At first, churchgoers were concerned that the incident was politically motivated against the church, said Rev. Ed Howell, dean of the Episcopal Diocese of the Russian River Deanery in Northern California, which includes St. John’s in Lakeport.

“We are very pleased that it does not appear to pose any threat related to the Episcopal Church,” Howell said.

He added that some church members had been dropped off at their cars so they had to walk home. Howell said no one, including the person who found the bomb, seemed overly concerned or alarmed by the incident, although some were concerned about the motivation.

Alan Rellaford, missionary for communications to the Episcopal Diocese of Northern California, which includes St. John’s in Lakeport, said the Church’s bishop, Rev. Megan M. Traquair, is aware of the situation.

Traquair “sends her prayers of support for the parish and for everyone involved, and looks forward to hearing more from law enforcement about the drivers behind this act,” Rellaford said.

Police encouraged anyone with information to call Stoebe at 707-263-9654.

You can reach Staff Writer Alana Minkler at 707-526-8511 or [email protected] On Twitter @alana_minkler

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