BLACKSTONE — A homemade explosive device, possibly a pipe bomb, detonated Thursday night underneath a car belonging to Bellingham High School Principal Lucas A. Giguere, leaving him “terrified” but uninjured — and his family puzzled about the motive for the attack.
Giguere’s father, Oliver, lives next door to his son and rushed out of his home around 6:15 p.m. Thursday when the bomb exploded inside the engine compartment of his son’s Jeep, which was parked in the driveway of the principal’s small single-family home.
“It’s weird,’’ Oliver Giguere said Friday afternoon. “He doesn’t know who did it. He don’t know. He don’t know.”
Oliver Giguere said he was watching television, relaxing with his feet up, when the bomb went off. “It wasn’t like a firecracker,” said Oliver Giguere, who described himself as a Vietnam War veteran. “It was a good hit. You could feel it.”
He added that when he came outside, his neighbor Maurice Dubeau, a Marine Korean War veteran, came over to investigate the cause of the booming sound.
“We know the sounds” of explosions, Oliver Giguere said of himself and his neighbor. “You could tell it was no joke.”
Oliver Giguere said his son lives alone and had come home early from school Thursday because he was not feeling well. The son told his father he would soon be fine, and they both returned to their respective homes, Oliver Giguere said.
He said he did not see anything suspicious happen in his neighborhood or around his son’s vehicle before the bomb went off.
“Who knows what happened?” Oliver Giguere said.
Lucas Giguere, who was not identified by law enforcement as the victim of the crime, could not be reached for comment Friday. His father said his son was “back in the saddle” and went to work as scheduled.
“I could tell he’s a little shaky today,’’ Oliver Giguere said. “I’d be shaky, too.”
Bellingham School Superintendent Peter D. Marano said police were deployed outside the high school Friday. Bellingham police said there was an “open investigation” but declined further comment.
“The safety of students and staff is our number one priority. Due to a recent local event there is an ongoing police investigation,’’ Marano said in the statement. “To ensure the safety of our students and staff there is additional police presence at the high school today. All classes and activities are proceeding as normal.”
No one has been arrested, Blackstone Police Chief Ross A. Atstupenas told reporters.
Bellingham High School student Diane Cabral, 18, said she doesn’t understand why someone would want to target their principal.
“I love our principal, and I think he’s really nice,” she said. “I don’t know why anyone would do something like this.”
Students were talking about the incident in school, wondering what happened.
“Teachers told us not to worry about it, just to probably keep us from getting nervous,” she said.
She said she hopes the principal is OK and that everyone stays safe.
“I just hope it doesn’t happen again,” she said.
Atstupenas said the bomb was homemade and that investigators, including the State Police bomb squad and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, recovered evidence from the scene and the Jeep. The chief appealed to the public for help, asking anyone who saw or heard anything on Lakeshore Drive to call police.
Maurice Dubeau, the neighbor who met up with Oliver Giguere, said the noise of the explosion prompted him to get out of his chair and walk across the street where, he saw Lucas Giguere standing in the driveway next to the damaged car.
“He was terrified because of what has just happened to his vehicle,’’ Dubeau said. “He said he never expected anyone would do that to his vehicle. He was very controlled, and he immediately called the police.”
Dubeau, and his wife, Lorraine, said they are used to hearing some explosions because they live near an active quarry, where explosives are used periodically. But the proximity to their home was unusual, prompting Maurice Dubeau to investigate further.
“It was a good noisy bomb . . . sounded like an M-80,’’ said Dubeau, who served in Korea between 1952 and 1955. “But it didn’t do much damage. Just the radiator of the car.”
Added Lorraine Dubeau: “We are used to hearing explosions, but we knew this one was different. It was definitely a different sound. . . . It was scary.”
The Dubeaus said Giguere has been living in the house for about the last two years.
“He is really nice,’’ Lorraine Dubeau said. “This should have never happened.”
Maurice Dubeau said the incident has not unnerved him. “There is a lot of crazy people out there now,’’ he said. “And you can’t get too serious about [it]. I am not going to lose any sleep over it.”
Jeanne Harnois lives a few houses down the street on Lakeshore Drive and heard the explosion.
“It was a blast. It wasn’t fireworks,” she said.
She has lived here 13 years, and says it’s a quiet neighborhood and a tightknit community. Her house overlooks Lake Hiawatha. She says she feels very safe here.
When she learned that the explosion was intentional, it was “quite a shock.”
“I don’t know what would possess someone to do that.”John R. Ellement of the Globe Staff contributed to this report. Emily Sweeney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.