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James Magill, 35, of San Jose, was arrested Wednesday night after police found a live pipe bomb in his car. The bomb was safely detonated and no one was injured. (San Jose police)

SAN JOSE -- What started as a DUI stop soon got dangerous when the bomb squad was summoned to detonate a pipe bomb found in the driver's van, with the boom and shake of the controlled blast rattling nearby residents.

The San Jose Police Department's MERGE Unit -- the city's SWAT equivalent -- was out on patrol about 8:45 p.m. Wednesday when officers spotted a motorist they believed was driving impaired, Officer Albert Morales said. They stopped the white 1998 Ford Windstar van near First Street and Matrix Drive, off Highway 101 near the airport and Casino M8trix.

Upon speaking to the driver and searching his car, they found evidence to arrest him on suspicion of driving under the influence and narcotics offenses.

They also made an unexpected discovery: a live pipe bomb.

The officers summoned the bomb unit, and surrounding streets were closed, but no evacuations were ordered. By early Thursday morning, the team safely detonated the device, and though it was a controlled explosion, nearby residents reported hearing and feeling the blast. One resident said it shook his apartment.

No injuries or major damage were reported.

The driver, 35-year-old James Francis Magill of San Jose, was arrested on suspicion of possessing a destructive device on top of the DUI and drug offenses and booked into County Jail without bail. Morales said Magill -- described as uncooperative with investigators -- has no significant criminal history, and police found no other bomb-making materials to link to him.


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Police declined to release additional details, citing an ongoing investigation.

Contact Robert Salonga at 408-920-5002. Follow him at Twitter.com/robertsalonga.