It started as a flicker of orange. In an instant – faster than the crowd could register it – the spark turned into a flame and burst outward. The explosion shook through the crowd’s chests and across the ground beneath their feet. Dark plumes billowed out and up, reaching over the rocky mountains of Miramar, California.
“Did anyone notice the color of the smoke?” asked Special Agent Mike Hong, a bomb technician with the Los Angeles FBI Office.
The word “grey” surfaced from different members of the crowd. Just by the smoke’s color, agents can detect whether the bomb was chemical or electrical, commercial or improvised. Any of those details offers clues on the people who made the explosive and the resources available to them.
For more than a week, a group of U.S. Army Reserve and active duty special agents studied different types of explosives along with Marine Corps and Navy ordnance specialists, in an FBI-led class.