Utah beauty queen, Kendra Gill, and friends accused of hurling homemade bombs from car

RIVERTON, Utah - An 18-year-old woman who recently was crowned Miss Riverton in Utah after wowing the judges with her piano playing is accused of exercising a more sinister talent -- cooking up homemade bombs and hurling them from a car.

The string of incidents began on Friday night when people began calling 911 to report people in a dark car hurling explosive devices at people and homes in Riverton, a city of about 40,000 people 20 miles south of Salt Lake City, according to arrest records.

Kendra McKenzie Gill and three others were arrested early Saturday after allegedly tossing makeshift explosives in neighborhoods at least 10 times. 

Witnesses in one incident told investigators people in a car threw four devices them, which exploded, and then sped off in the car, according to arrest records.

Police said the four 18-year-olds admitted buying plastic bottles, aluminum foil and household chemicals at a local Walmart store before assembling the devices.

"Apparently these individuals were throwing them at various people and property throughout Riverton," Unified Fire Authority Captain Clint Mecham told KUTV-TV, adding that nobody was injured. "This goes well beyond a teenage prank."

Gill was booked on suspicion of 10 felony counts of detonating an incendiary device. She didn't appear on the Salt Lake County jail roster Monday morning, and no phone number for her was listed.

The others arrested in the case were John Patrick Reagh, Shanna Marie Smith and Bryce Christopher Stone. It wasn't immediately clear if any of the four had an attorney.

Stone, who was driving the car, reportedly told investigators that he and his friends were "pranking" with fireworks with his friends.

But fire officials said the devices -- which can spew caustic chemicals and shrapnel when they burst -- can be very dangerous.

"These kind of devices can damage property, they can maim and kill individuals if they come in close proximity to them," Mecham told ABC 4/KTVX.

Gill topped a slate of nine beauty contestants earlier this summer, showing off her years of piano training with a Scott Joplin number and taking home a $2,000 scholarship.

As part of her platform, "Fit to be You," she planned to establish workout groups and encourage healthy body image, the South Valley Journal reported shortly after the pageant.

"You don't have to look just a certain way," Gill was quoted as saying. "It's about being healthy and happy."

Before competing in a local pageant, contestants sign a contract certifying they've never been convicted of a crime and have no pending charges against them. If circumstances change after the contract is signed, pageant officials have the right to revoke a contestant's title.

Riverton pageant officials were expected to issue a decision in Gill's case Monday, according to Justi Lundeberg, a spokeswoman for the Miss Utah pageant.

The Miss America Organization "requires a lot of these young women - that they're living a good life, a clean life," Lundeberg said, adding that she hoped the incident was a misunderstanding. "This is such an unfortunate event. We haven't had to deal with this before."

 

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