Berkeley Police Seize Explosives From Grizzly Peak House

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday July 23, 2009 - 09:49:00 AM

A 911 call led to an arrest and seizure of explosives by Berkeley police Saturday. 

At 12:30 p.m. July 18, someone dialed 911 from a house in the 900 block of Grizzly Peak Boulevard in North Berkeley and quickly hung up. 

Patrol officers responded to the call but, according to Lt. Andrew Greenwood of the Berkeley Police Department’s Community Services Bureau, did not get a response when they knocked on the door and rang the bell, though they heard movement inside.  

Eventually a man later identified as Emoru Oboke Obbanya, a 27-year-old Berkeley resident, came out and quickly closed the door behind him. Greenwood said Obbanya appeared very agitated and nervous.  

“What was a routine check-up became non-routine due to the conduct of the person,” Greenwood said. “He looked extremely angry right from the very beginning, rather than getting upset with the police gradually.” 

Greenwood said Obbanya repeatedly cursed the officers and refused to confirm that he lived in the house. He did not cooperate with the officers’ efforts to make sure that no one inside the residence was injured or in need of help. 

Concerned about the safety of other residents, and in light Obbanya's behavior, the officers checked inside the house. Though they did not find anyone inside the house who needed aid, they saw signs of possible criminal violations. Greenwood refused to release specific details about the violations, explaining that the investigation was still ongoing. 

After obtaining a warrant, officers searched the house and found explosives, chemicals and other items which could be used to make explosives. 

Greenwood did not release information about the amount of explosives recovered. Berkeley police arrested Obbanya when he tried to stop them from searching the house. 

The officers called the Berkeley Police Department Bomb Squad to “safely conduct the search and seize illegal material,” Greenwood said. After finding the explosives, the officers evacuated the home and neighboring residences. 

The Berkeley Fire Department Hazardous Materials Team, the University of California Police Department Bomb Squad, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation assisted in the operation. 

A number of volatile items were safely removed using the UCPD blast transport vessel, Greenwood said. 

Obbanya was charged with four felony counts and one misdemeanor, including possession of an illegal firearm, prohibited possession of a firearm, possession of a destructive device, possession of material with intent to make an explosive device and obstructing a police officer from doing his duty. 

His bail has been set at $121,500. Greenwood said police officers left the house after completing their investigation at midnight Sunday. He added that the 911 number had likely been dialed by mistake, and that police had no reason to believe that there had been a hostage situation at the house.