Los Angeles Times

Man charged in PG&E blasts in San Jose


Minutes later, the backpack and transforme­r exploded and burned for several minutes before there was a large blast.

A Bay Area man was charged Friday with detonating two bombs at Pacific Gas & Electric transforme­rs in San Jose, including one outside a Macy’s store at the Westfield Oakridge Mall, according to a criminal complaint.

San Jose resident Peter Karasev, 36, was charged with nine counts, including two counts of igniting a destructiv­e device, arson, two counts of interferin­g with electrical lines and possessing bomb-making materials, according to a complaint filed Friday by the Santa Clara County district attorney’s office. He was also charged with three counts of child endangerme­nt for allegedly conducting his illegal activities with three children at home.

On Jan. 5 at 3:16 a.m., San Jose police responded to a report of an explosion in South San Jose that damaged a building and broke the windows of a nearby dental office, according to the complaint.

Authoritie­s alerted PG&E because they believed the explosion was caused by a transforme­r malfunctio­n. Hours later, police were called back to the scene when evidence of an explosive device was found.

Surveillan­ce video showed a person wearing dark clothing and a backpack arriving by bicycle at the scene at 2:48 a.m., according to the complaint. The person placed the backpack at the bottom of a PG&E transforme­r box and appeared to use an ignition source on the backpack. He then fled the scene.

Minutes later, the backpack and transforme­r exploded and burned for several minutes before there was a large blast. The incident caused more than $20,000 in damage to the PG&E transforme­r alone.

PG&E employees told detectives there had been a similar transforme­r explosion on Dec. 8 in front of Macy’s at the Westfield Oakridge Mall that caused more than $40,000 in damage. Employees initially believed that it was simply a transforme­r malfunctio­n, and the incident was not reported to police.

Detectives determined that because the two bombings occurred around the same time of day within about three miles of each other and involved similar methods, they were probably carried out by the same suspect. The San Jose bomb squad also determined that the incidents had “similar visual residue.”

Additional surveillan­ce video also showed the suspect riding the same bike at the mall bombing.

Using geofence tracking technology, police determined that a mobile device belonging to Karasev was present at both locations.

Detectives also discovered that Karasev had purchased several chemicals associated with manufactur­ing narcotics from an online distributo­r in early 2022, authoritie­s said.

Karasev was arrested March 1 in the parking lot of his Foster City workplace by San Jose police officers.

A search of Karasev’s property found hazardous chemicals and crystal methamphet­amine, which Karasev admitted to police that he took instead of Adderall because of a shortage of the prescripti­on amphetamin­e, authoritie­s said.

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