Woman's Bomb Claim Shuts Down Gasoline Fuel Tanker Facility

A woman claiming to have a bomb in her car drove through a security gate at the Valero gasoline terminal in Crockett on Monday, prompting an evacuation while negotiators persuaded her to surrender.

Lynda Kennedy, 36, of Elk Grove did not give a reason for her actions that halted operations at the 24-tank facility, where tanker trucks fill up with gasoline for delivery to local stations, police said.

A subsequent search of her 2002 BMW revealed only a cell phone charger, which Kennedy claimed was a remote detonator, said Sheriff's Lt. Donny Gordon. No explosives or other weapons were found.

"It could have been catastrophic," Gordon said.

Chris Howe, a spokesman for Valero Refining Company-California, said the terminal is owned by a separate subsidiary known as Valero LP. He said the "security incident" was not associated with the refinery.

"The incident is under investigation, and I'm sure all the plans associated with security are being reviewed," Howe said.

Kennedy waited in her car outside the terminal -- which has a 3 million-barrel capacity -- along San Pablo Avenue until a tanker truck approached the security gate about 6:20 p.m., said Sheriff's Lt. Alan Johnson.

Before the gate could close behind the tanker, Kennedy drove into the terminal. She maneuvered around an employee who tried to block the entrance with his truck, Johnson said.

Once she was inside, terminal employees surrounded the woman's car and told her to leave. Eventually, Kennedy parked the car and said she had a bomb, Johnson said.

"She displayed some sort of triggering or push-button device with a wire trailing from it," he said. "She claimed it was a remote."

The terminal was evacuated and personnel from several agencies responded, including the Contra Costa Sheriff's Office, the Highway Patrol, Hercules police and the Contra Costa fire department. The nearby Conoco-Phillips Refinery also sent a fire crew for support, Johnson said.

Kennedy surrendered about 7:30 p.m. after talking with a Contra Costa Sheriff's hostage negotiator. Bomb-sniffing dogs were brought in to inspect the woman's car and a team of officers searched the terminal grounds, but found nothing, Gordon said.

Police cleared the scene about 10:20 p.m. No injuries were reported.

Kennedy was arrested on suspicion of making terrorist threats and trespassing. She is being held at County Jail in Martinez on $75,000 bail. She declined a Times request for an interview.