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Bomb pranks like one in Hamlet of Wallkill can be lethal

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Wallkill, N.Y. - John Marullo didn't hear the small explosion in his mailbox July 12.

He discovered its remnants about 8 a.m. as he came back to his Long Lane home from giving one of his daughters a lift to her job.

"I noticed that the door to the mailbox was open and it's never open," he said. "I reached in with one hand and it brushed the inside of the mailbox, then I reached in with the other hand."

Pain ran up his forearms.

He saw metal filings inside the mailbox — bits of steel wool dripping with some fluid.

He looked down. At his feet was a water bottle. It was puffed out like an over-inflated balloon, fuzzy from heat or something and the cap was off. It had a little green liquid in it. The reek of acid or cleaning fluid hung in the air.

"I took a pinch of the bits of steel wool and dropped them into the bottle with a bit of the green liquid," he said. "There was a violent reaction. It was boiling, roiling and smoking about an inch high. There was white smoke."

Then it hit him — it was a bomb.

"I was shaking," he said. "I was scared, because this could have been lethal."

Police believe someone had put a "pressure" bomb inside the mailbox. It was powerful enough to char the inside of the mailbox.

But they believe things could have turned out worse, if the bottle cap had not popped off before the container could explode more violently.

Marullo, who runs a hair salon from his home, called Shawangunk police.

The department is looking into the case. They have no suspect so far.

They say they have heard of other cases in the area. State Police say they handle about six cases of pressure bombs statewide each year. Experts believe a lot of cases go unreported.

The homemade chemical bombs are also known as bottle, chemical, Drano, or acid bombs. The pressure created by combining volatile household chemicals and shaking them in a capped bottle, causes the bottle to expand and explode.

They are a nationwide problem.

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