Indian Valley Road rises in the hills overlooking central Novato to the south west, and has a decidedly country feel. The homes in the area are on large lots, many with pools or tennis courts. Novato High School is also nearby.
Lieutenant Jamie Scardina of the Marin County Sheriff’s department reported that they had received several calls from the neighborhood, near Indian Valley and Pacheco Avenue, of explosions heard in the area. As they investigated the reports, on Friday, February 13 at 8:00 am, they pulled over a car near Novato High, at the corner of Arthur and Tyler Streets, just a few blocks from the explosions.
The driver, 43-year-old Laureen Mason, was already under suspicion of possessing explosive devices. A search of her vehicle revealed that she had four explosives with her at the time. Novato Police worked with the Sheriff’s Department to close the nearby streets and advise the residents to take shelter while bomb technicians from U.C. Berkeley were called to the scene to render the devices safe.
By 11 am, agents from the County Major Crimes Task Force, Novato Fire Department, and the County Hazmat Team joined in while they served a search warrant at Mason’s nearby residence on Pacheco Avenue. None of her family or roommates, including her 5-year-old daughter, were at home at the time of the search.
They located 87 additional explosive devices in Mason’s bedroom, along with potassium percholate and aluminum powder, materials for making explosives. They also found a substance believed to be crystal methamphetamine in the room.
Joy Brown, who is reportedly a roommate of Mason’s, told KGO TV reporter Alan Wang that “She’s a great mother. I mean she’s just a really sweet person. She has the master bedroom and keeps her door locked, so that’s her little area. If they [explosives] were in there we didn’t know about it.”
Mason was arrested and booked at the Marin County Jail on charges of possession of explosive devices, detonating an explosive device with the intent to intimidate, and child endangerment. Robert Speer, 33, who is reportedly Mason’s boyfriend and lives a few blocks away closer to central Novato, was also arrested on charges of possessing an explosive device. CBS San Francisco reported that the devices were equivalent to a quarter stick of dynamite.