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Bomb suspect must stand trial


April 6, 1996

Bakersfield Californian

The ex-Marine is accused of blowing up his van and shooting at police.

Bombing suspect David lee Enteman was out of his bandages and back in court Friday, where he was bound over for trial on arson, assault on a peace officer and bomb charges.

Enteman, the ex-Marine police believe blew up his van Feb. 9 -- setting himself afire and flinging metal shards over two city blocks -- was represented by two Southern California attorneys retained by his father.

The Bend, Ore., man was shackled and thin; he bore the bright pink marks of a burn victim on his neck and wore therapeutic gloves on his healing hands.

He and his father, Don Enteman, consulted earnestly with defense attorney Richard S. Plotin, who argued there was insufficient evidence to prove Enteman shot at officers or intended to blow anything up.

Still, Municipal Court Commissioner Patrick M. Alderete found sufficienct cause to try Enteman on seven bomb, arson and assault charges including: assult with a deadly weapon on a peace officer, felony resisting arrest, aggravated arson, possession of a destructive device near a school or public place, and wrongful possession of a destructive device with intent to injure or intimidate another person.

A second charge of assault on a police officer was dropped after Plotin argued no evidence showed Enteman had tried to shoot a second officer early that foggy morning.

Alderete upheld the first charge -- that Enteman fired a shot at police, narrowly missing officer Sonja Foley -- despite defense implications that witnesses didn't actually see Enteman fire the shots. "I think it's highly unlikely that anybody else was taking shots at them at 2 a.m. in themorning," was the dry retort of prosecutor John S. Somers.

Alderete reviewed evidence and testimony from three police officers and a BPD [Bakersfield Police Department] bomb squad expert who testified Enteman was first contacted by police Feb. 9 when a security guard reported a "suspicious" looking van he thought might have stolen goods inside.

Officers responded at 2:10 a.m., finding Enteman lying on a cot in his blue, older model van, with a Rottweiller and collie inside. Officers testified they asked him to step out of the van, but he sped away, setting off a search through the dense fog that ended on Nordic Drive near West High School, where the van was found parked.

At least two shots were fired at officers who stopped behind the parked van, before Special Weapons and Tactic Team members showd up to wait the suspect out, officers testified.

An ensuing two-hour standoff climaxed when witnesses saw flames inside the van, shortly before Enteman got out and ran away with his clothes smouldering. The van exploded seconds later, from what bomb experts testified was a volatile mix of ammunition and home-made bomb supplies.

Bakersfield police bomb squad member Scott Tunnicliffe testified that fragments of Mason jars, pipe bombs, pages from a bomb-making manual and other chemicals were scattered around the explosion scene.

While Tuncliffe testified a nearby condominium sustained "severe structural damage" in teh blast and several nearby apartments were peppered with metal shards and shattered glass, only Enteman was injured in the blast.

Detectives believe Enteman was a disgruntled Church of Scientology member who was driving to Southern California [with] the intent to harm church officials.

A woman who once dated the defendant told detectives that Enteman "felt (church members) were involved in the programming and deprogramming of his mind," Tunnicliffe testified.


Scientologist car bombing suspect pleads guilty in plea-bargain. Bakersfield Californian, Saturday June 1, 1996.

Van bomb suspect makes deal Guilty plea means up to 20 years in prison

Californian staff writer

The Oregon man who set off a massive explosion inside his van during a standoff with Bakersfield police in February pleaded guilty to three felonies in Superior Court on Friday.

In exchange for the guilty plea, prosecutors agreed to drop four other felony charges against David Lee Enteman, 39, who will now face up to 20 years in prison when he is sentenced June 27.

"This is a fair resolution of this case," Deputy District Attorney John Somers said. "Even if he would have been convicted of all the counts, he would not have faced much more than 20 years."

Somers said Enteman will likely serve at least 17 years of the sentence.

One of Enteman's attorneys, Henplea bargain, saying it would be premature to discuss his client's case until after sentencing.

The plea brought an unexpectedly quick ending to a saga that saw a southwest Bakersfield neighborhood shattered by the explosion that ripped apart a Ford van shortly after 2 a.m. Feb. 9.

The blast heavily damaged one nearby apartment and damaged many others, and sent pieces of the van flying more than three blocks. Amazingly, no one was injured by the blast, which also destroyed two nearby cars.

Enteman suffered severe burns on his hands, face, and upper torso as a result of a fire he set inside the van just before the explosion. He spent more than thre weeks undergoing treatment in the burn unit at Valley Medical Center in Fresno.

An investigation by Bakersfield police revealed that Enteman was obsessed with the president of the International Church of Scientology, Karen Hollander, and intended to explode a bomb at church headquarters in Los Angeles.

A Los Angeles lawyer representing Scientology, Elliot J. Abelson, has been following the case and was in court Friday. Earlier, Abelson told a <ITCalifornian</IT reporter that Enteman had vivid delusions about Hollander and planned to kill her to rid himself of the hallucinations he was suffering.

Enteman was on his way to Los Angeles when police here approached him near West high school, the police investigation revealed. He fled in the van, was relocated, shot a pistol at police officers, then holed up in the van and set it on fire. The blast followed shortly after he tumbled out of the van with his clothes on fire.

The explosion was caused by at least 40 pounds of a mixture of ammonium nitrate and fuel oil, the same powerful cocktail that virtually destroyed the federal building in Oklahoma City last year. Also exploding were at least three pipe bombs and propane cannisters.

Enteman entered guilty pleas to charges of assault with a deadly weapon on a police officer with a so-called "enhancement" of using a forearm [sic, probably meant "firearm"], transporting a destructive device and unlawful possession of materials with intent to make explosives.

Bakersfield Scientologist bomber sentenced

28 Jun 1996 12:44:00 -0400

Law & Order

Filed 6:52 - 6/28/96

Bomber sentenced: The Oregon man who touched off a bomb near West High School in February was sentenced by a Superior Court judge to serve 20 years in prison Thursday.

But for the first time since the early morning explosion destroyed the van David Lee Enteman had set ablaze, the 38-year-old broke his silence.

Enteman appealed to Judge Richard J. Oberholzer for the chance to withdraw his plea and fire his attorneys, Los Angeles defense counsels Henry Sack and Richard S. Plotin.

Reading from a prepared note, Enteman told the judge the incident was all an accident, and pleaded for the right to a jury trial.

Oberholzer denied Enteman's requests.

Compiled by staff writer Bob Christie.


David Enteman was also a staff member of Scientology's Founding Church in Washington DC around 1983-4. He worked in the public division, rode a motorcycle and was serious and lacking a sense of humor. Nonetheless this whole "mad bomber" thing seems out of character even for him.

Chip Gallo

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