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Disneyland worker charged in dry-ice blasts

  • Christian Barnes, 22, of Long Beach, pleaded not guilty to possession of a destructive device in a public place, and his bail was set at $500,000, said Farrah Emami, spokeswoman for the Orange County district attorney's office. (AP Photo/Anaheim Police)

ANAHEIM, Calif. » Two dry-ice bombs exploded at Disneyland, prosecutors revealed Thursday as they filed a felony criminal count against an employee who worked at a vending cart near the Toontown section of the theme park.

Christian Barnes, 22, pleaded not guilty to possession of a destructive device in a public place, and his bail was set at $500,000, said Farrah Emami, spokeswoman for the Orange County district attorney’s office.

Authorities initially reported that a dry-ice bomb had detonated Tuesday in a trash can. But a statement from the district attorney’s office announcing the criminal filing said there were two explosions.

Prosecutors allege Barnes placed dry ice in two water bottles and locked one inside the vending cart. When a co-worker came to take over the cart, Barnes opened the cart and one bottle exploded, Emami said in the statement.

Barnes then took the second bottle from the cart and walked through Toontown, placed it in a trash can and left the area, according to the statement. The bottle exploded a short time later after a janitor removed the trash bag and put it on the ground.

No one was injured in the blasts, although several bystanders reported ringing in their ears, prosecutors said.

Barnes has cooperated with investigators and told them the blast was an isolated incident with results he did not expect, said Anaheim police Sgt. Bob Dunn, who did not elaborate.

Barnes’ father Raymond Barnes said he did not know exactly what happened but thought his son was "just silly, not thinking" and messing around with dry ice without realizing the severity of what might occur.

"Whatever it was, there was nothing sinister about it," Barnes told KCBS-TV on Wednesday. "He’s a good kid. Never been in any trouble."

Calls to the address Barnes shares with his father rang unanswered Wednesday and today.

Dry-ice bombs are easy to make, and on a much smaller scale, are sometimes used as classroom chemistry demonstrations, said John Goodpaster, an explosives expert at the Purdue School of Science at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

The size of the explosion, however, can vary greatly depending on the container’s size, material and the amount of dry ice used, he said.

The devices could cause injuries to people nearby if the built-up pressure was high enough and included flying bottle shards, he said.

"This is a simple device. It’s not a pipe bomb filled with gunpowder, but it definitely will generate an explosion," Goodpaster said. "If somebody was throwing something out, they could have been injured."

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