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Utah beauty queen among teens accused of throwing homemade bombs

By Laura Zuckerman

(Reuters) - An 18-year-old Utah hometown beauty pageant winner was among four people arrested on suspicion of throwing homemade bombs at houses in a Salt Lake City suburb over the weekend, authorities said on Monday.

Beauty queen Kendra Gill, crowned Miss Riverton in June, and three other 18-year-olds were arrested on Saturday on suspicion of detonating incendiary devices during a bomb-throwing spree that began on Friday night, Unified Fire Authority Captain Clint Mecham said.

"This wasn't just like kids blowing up a mailbox," he said.

Police received numerous calls late on Friday about the sound of explosions or gunshots in a Riverton neighborhood where investigators later found remnants of bombs constructed from household chemicals, aluminum foil and plastic water bottles.

Residents of the neighborhood and other areas of Riverton reported that the devices were being thrown from a dark-colored car, according to arrest records.

A resident of one of the homes targeted told investigators her former boyfriend, Bryce Stone, owned a car matching that description. Stone later told investigators he had spent the evening "‘pranking' with fireworks with friends," records show.

Gill, Stone and two other 18-year-olds were arrested on suspicion of 10 felony counts of setting off explosives, according to booking documents. They were each released on $50,000 bail on Sunday, jail officials said.

No one was injured by the blasts, which caused minor property damage, but the explosives could have caused severe harm from acid burns or shrapnel, Mecham said.

Officials with the Miss Utah Scholarship Pageant said they have taken no action since no official charges have been filed against Gill.

"We're supportive of her and the local Riverton pageant organization," said spokeswoman Justi Lundeberg. "Since no formal charges have been brought, we're hopeful this will just blow over and we'll consider it an unfortunate event."

(Reporting by Laura Zuckerman in Salmon, Idaho; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Eric Walsh)

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