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Calif. man killed by homemade explosive

COSTA MESA, Calif. — A man who was killed when a homemade explosive blew up at his California home was an eccentric who bicycled around his neighborhood dispensing antigovernment conspiracy pamphlets, a neighbor said Monday.

‘‘He definitely seemed paranoid about things and people,’’ Donna Swift said. ‘‘It was getting more extreme.’’

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A bomb squad, the FBI and other investigators descended on a street in the Orange County city of Costa Mesa after the 52-year-old man died in a Sunday night blast. His name has not been released.

An ambulance had been called about 90 minutes earlier when neighbors saw the man lying on his front lawn, but he refused offers of help and went inside, neighbors said.

Police were called about 7:30 p.m. after neighbors heard the explosion, and the man was found dead at his home.

The man apparently was killed by a homemade explosive device but it was not immediately clear whether the blast was accidental or suicide, police said.

At least three homemade explosive devices, including at least one pipe bomb, were found.

‘‘There was one upon his person, one nearby — so we believe he was possibly wearing two — and there was one contained within the house,’’ police Sergeant Jerry Hildeman said.

The others were safely blown up by bomb disposal experts.

Swift, who has lived in the neighborhood for 17 years, said the man apparently had lived in the same home three doors down from hers since birth. He apparently lived there at first with his parents and brothers but currently lived alone and may have inherited the home, she said.

‘‘He was kind of a recluse, super-bright but very reclusive,’’ she said. ‘‘Never worked and [was] always on his bike.’’

He passed out pamphlets to neighbors and stores, including a brochure that he called ‘‘The Pricker,’’ Swift said.

About 11 years ago, he wrote a 14-page document that he distributed which contained some neighbors’ names and which prompted police to take him in for a 72-hour mental examination, Swift said.

Despite being odd, however, her neighbor always seemed polite and unthreatening. Swift said she had him over for dinner several times. ‘‘I never felt that I couldn’t be around him,’’ she said.

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