Mesa Police Association: Man who threatened to detonate bomb could be released on bond

Posted at 8:04 PM, Sep 22, 2017

A man who is accused of threatening to blow himself up outside of an ex-girlfriend’s Mesa home could soon be released on bond. 

On Friday, the Mesa Police Association released a statement in an attempt to warn the public and other police departments that a judge lowered Steven Vanderwall’s bond from $500,000 to $150,000. 

In May, Vanderwall was arrested after making suicidal threats outside a home in the area of Mesa Drive and 10th Avenue. 

Court paperwork says Vanderwall was seen kneeling in the front yard of the home and told officers that he was carrying a bomb and was going to kill himself.

Police say during the incident Vanderwall attempted to light a fuse while making statements like “I’m going to blow myself up” and “I’m going to teach her a lesson.” 

During the incident, the man successfully lit a flare and moved it towards his abdominal area where officers could see several objects hidden, court documents said. At least one officer shot the man and five adults and two children were evacuated from the home.

The suspect was taken to the hospital and it was determined that he was carrying four explosive devices that were connected through a single wick. According to a Mesa police spokesperson, the device consisted of metal and appeared to be a homemade pipe bomb. 

While being questioned by police, Vanderwall allegedly admitted to making the devices because he was upset that his girlfriend, Denise Ortega, broke up with him and made him move out of the house, court documents said. He also explained that Ortega still had a handful of his personal items which enraged him.

During an interview with ABC15, Ortega said she dated the suspect briefly but he hadn’t been able to “move on.” She had an order of protection against him and called police several times in the past to file complaints about him.

The police association says Vanderwall has an extensive criminal history which includes threatening officers with a knife, researching how to build pipe bombs and attempting to detonate an explosive device.