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Deadly explosion at Southern California day spa linked to suspicious device

Tribune News Service logo Tribune News Service 5/17/2018 By Richard Winton, Anh Do, Javier Panzar and Joseph Serna, Los Angeles Times

a group of people riding on the back of a truck: FBI investigators and the Orange County Sheriff department continue investigating on Wednesday May 16, 2018 following an explosion and fire at a medical building that killed a woman and injured at least three other people Tuesday afternoon in Aliso Viejo, Calif.

FBI investigators and the Orange County Sheriff department continue investigating on Wednesday May 16, 2018 following an explosion and fire at a medical building that killed a woman and injured at least three other people Tuesday afternoon in Aliso Viejo, Calif.
© Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times/TNS

LOS ANGELES - An explosion that ripped through an Aliso Viejo day spa on Tuesday, killing the business owner and injuring two customers, does not appear to have been the result of an accident, authorities said.

At a news conference Wednesday afternoon, an FBI official said the explosion appears to have been caused by a device that was "not consistent" with the beauty business, Magyar Kozmetika.

The 1:10 p.m. blast rattled the suburban Orange County community and sparked a massive response from law enforcement. The explosion is being treated as a homicide, and evidence from the scene has been sent to the FBI's lab in Quantico, Va.

It wasn't clear how the device came to be in the business, said Paul Delacourt, assistant director of the FBI's Los Angeles office.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the federal law enforcement branch of the U.S. Postal Service, said the package delivered to the spa did not go through the Postal Service mail system.

"We do not believe this was an accident," Delacourt told reporters. "This explosion was caused by a device. ... The damage at the scene was extensive."

The Orange County Sheriff's Department is leading the investigation, with assistance from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the FBI, officials said.

On Wednesday, authorities identified the woman who was killed as Ildiko Krajnyak. The 48-year-old Coto de Caza resident worked for three decades as an aesthetician, according to public records and her LinkedIn account.

Tuesday night, Orange County Sheriff's Cmdr. Dave Sawyer said that it was too early to determine whether the explosion was a bombing, and that investigators were interviewing those who were injured and had been taken to hospitals.

Law enforcement officials were executing search warrants at the damaged business, Krajnyak's home and a residence in Long Beach, authorities said.

Delacourt said there was no indication of other threats or of secondary devices in the community.

The explosion shook the two-story building so forcefully that employees at neighboring businesses thought it was an earthquake. Some stepped outside, anticipating more shaking.

Andrew Dyjak, the owner of a massage business inside the building at 11 Mareblu, said he realized it wasn't an earthquake when he got outside and saw the devastation.

"There was one part of the building that was destroyed, like really destroyed," he said. "No windows, glass, and we noticed a small fire."

Glass was everywhere, and part of the building's walls were damaged, Dyjak said.

"For sure, we are closing for the day," he said. "I don't think anybody is planning on going back. And they probably have to check the structure."

Besides Dyjak's business, the building housed at least one chiropractic office and a medical practice, he said.

Laguna Niguel retiree Judith Hoel was sitting in a dental chair inside the Ocean Valley Dental Center across the street from the building about to get her teeth cleaned when she heard a "huge boom" and the clinic shook.

"It's terrible to say, but I hoped it was an accident and not something that would be worse," she said. "It's a frightening world today."

More than 30 bystanders stood across the street from the building Tuesday afternoon, snapping selfies and posting updates on social media. Several dozen employees of the medical complex sat in grassy areas facing the office.

Rows of emergency vehicles blocked the streets as a helicopter hovered overhead.

Augustine Tolar had been driving to lunch along Moulton Parkway, passing Oso Parkway, when the explosion caused him to stop.

"I knew right away there would be a fatality. No way in hell could someone survive that big of a hit," said the customer service clerk from Laguna Niguel.

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