News - Grass Valley - Pipe Bomb Discovered in Closet - Double Shooting

Grass Valley woman arrested after officers discover pipe bombs in her closet

A woman was arrested Saturday after pipe bombs were found in a Grass Valley home.

Mary Dalton of Grass Valley was arrested on suspicion of possessing a destructive device and was booked into the Nevada County Jail, according to a news release issued by the Grass Valley Police Department.

Around 3:30 p.m. Saturday, police got an anonymous tip regarding bombs being kept in the 400 block of Lamarque Court, according to the release.

Responding officers found the pipe bombs in a closet within the home, according to the release.

Explosive ordinance disposal crews were called in from the Placer County Sheriff’s Office along with a bomb robot, according to the release.

The pipe bombs were later safely destroyed, according to the release. As of Sunday afternoon, Dalton remains in custody.

Police: Suspect In Grass Valley Double Homicide Called Police After Shooting, Lived On Property With Victims

GRASS VALLEY (CBS13) — Police are investigating a shooting that left a man and a woman dead in Grass Valley Monday night.

Authorities say the shooter called the police and talked to officers when they arrived.

Michael Pocock’s booking photo. (Credit: Grass Valley Police Department)

Now we’re learning they were living on the property as the suspect, Michael Pocock. Police say he was living in one house while the victims were living in the basement of another house on the same lot.

Police say Pocock killed one victim near the door to the basement and the other near the door to his house.

“The neighborhood is just really upset and in shock,” neighbor Pat Henderson said.

Pocock also has a long history with police and has been previously accused of harassment, assault, domestic violence, and driving under the influence. “He attacked one of the elderly neighbors at his home. He was like, ‘I thought he was going to kill me,’” one neighbor said.

Pocock is facing two counts of homicide.  The identities of the victims have not yet been released.

How a James Comey Tweet Fueled a Conspiracy Theory That Upended a California Town 

A town in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada recently found itself at the center of a baseless conspiracy theory that predicted an attack on a school fund-raiser.

All because of an innocuous tweet from James B. Comey, the former F.B.I. director.

Scott Maddock, the principal of the Grass Valley Charter School in Grass Valley, Calif., was unaware of the conspiracy theory when he arrived at work on a normal-seeming Monday morning late last month. But when he checked his voice mail, he heard from a man identifying himself as “a patriot,” alerting Mr. Maddock to the “threat.”

“He was warning us that something was going to happen at our Blue Marble Jubilee school fund-raiser and that we should contact the authorities,” Mr. Maddock said. “He kept saying that he is not behind it, but he has a credible source.”

Mr. Maddock wasn’t sure what to make of it. The message, left over the weekend, was nearly three minutes long, repetitive and inarticulate. But ignoring it wasn’t an option.

Out of an abundance of caution, he contacted the local police, who visited the school, recorded the message and began investigating.

It didn’t take long to unearth the roots of the threat, preposterous as they were.

Two days earlier, on April 27, Mr. Comey had shared a tweet listing a handful of jobs he had held in the past alongside the hashtag #FiveJobsIveHad.

Hundreds of others had done the same before and since, but a small fringe group of conspiracy theorists seized on the tweet, claiming that it contained a coded message.

The Grass Valley police quickly determined that the theory was baseless and that the school, with about 500 students from prekindergarten through eighth grade, was under no threat.

But word traveled fast in Grass Valley, which is home to a population of about 13,000 people.

Mr. Maddock and Wendy Willoughby, the president of the foundation, had started to hear from parents who were worried not about the predicted attack, but about the people who believed in it.

After several sleepless nights, Mr. Maddock, worried that the event could spiral out of control, announced last week that the fund-raiser was canceled, as reported by The Sacramento Bee.

One of the first people to warn the school about the false conspiracy theory was Mike Rothschild, a researcher who had watched it gain steam online, its signal boosted by increasingly high-profile Twitter accounts.

“I saw it unfolding, and I recognized immediately how bad this could get it,” he said. “And ultimately it happened.”

He had urged the school not to cancel the event for fear that those who believed in the conspiracy theory would claim victory (they did), but in the end Mr. Rothschild said he understood why officials made the decision they did.

Rob Brotherton, an assistant professor of psychology at Barnard College:  Giving them oxygen, even while debunking them, can nevertheless allow them to grow, he warned.

“It seems to me, having studied these things for a long time, that giving it this kind of platform, even when it’s clearly framed as ‘this conspiracy theory is not true,’ is only going to raise its profile,” he said.

But Mr. Rothschild disagreed with that sentiment. “This is happening whether or not we write about it,” he said. “The first time you encounter this should be poking a hole in it.”

And fringe though they may be, online conspiracy theories can spiral out of control, resulting in real-world consequences, as was the case for the Grass Valley Charter School.

The school also missed out on an opportunity to raise about $15,000 and recoup thousands more that had already been spent on the fund-raiser, Mr. Paddock said.

Students suffered, too, Ms. Willoughby said. The theme for this year’s fund-raiser was “Save the Western Monarch Butterfly,” and the event was to include a butterfly drawing contest with the submissions to be displayed at the festival, she said.

On Thursday, Ms. Willoughby gathered the submissions anyway, including one from a girl who had cut out her butterfly, pasted it onto a background and attached a piece of leather rope for it to hang up at the fund-raiser.

“It’s heartbreaking that these kids, that this is taken from them,” Ms. Willoughby said.
Meanwhile, the online community that spread the false conspiracy theory to begin with has already found a new subject to investigate, according to Mr. Rothschild.

“This stuff moves so fast,” he said. “They’ve already moved on.”