The manager of a New Carrollton apartment complex found his office desk booby-trapped yesterday with a bomb that fire department officials said was "sophisticated" and set to kill.
The bomb squad unit of the Prince George's County fire department quickly disarmed the explosive and removed it from the management offices of the Carrollton Terrace Apartments. Fire department officials still were investigating the incident late yesterday, and no suspects had been found.
"It's not an every day occurrence," said fire department spokesman Jim Mundy. "This was not designed to scare anyone. This was designed to detonate -- everything was in place."
Mundy described the bomb as a "home made" modification of military hardware. Witnesses said it resembled a hand grenade.
Joseph M. Hish, who took over as manager of the sprawling 1,065-unit complex last March, discovered the bomb when he entered his office at about 8:40 am yesterday. Witnesses said the device was rigged between his desk and chair, set to explode if the chair were pulled away from the desk.
"He Hish yanked on the chair a couple of times," said Tyrone Perkins, the chief maintainance engineer who had opened the office with secretary Nancy Bailey an hour before. "When he couldn't get it out, then he saw it the bomb -- that's when he took off."
Hish, visibly shaken by the incident, would not discuss what had happened. But employes said after he saw the device he quickly ushered them toward back offices and called police.
Officials said one of the office windows was broken and could have been a point of entry for an intruder.
Tenants in the complex say that since Hish took over management of the apartments there has been a sharp increase in evictions for nonpayment of rent. In addition, they said, some staff members have been replaced in an effort to improve conditions at the complex.
Investigators on the scene checked records of past employes, and Mundy said the possibility that the bomb was set by a disgruntled former tenant or employe has not been ruled out.