Bomb squad finds explosive device inside popular restaurant in NW Fresno, police say

An explosive device was found inside a Panera Bread restaurant in northwest Fresno after a man with a felony warrant tried to flee from officers Wednesday evening, according to Fresno police.

Authorities evacuated restaurants and businesses near the intersection of Shaw and Marty avenues where the Panera restaurant is located, and a bomb squad was called out, Lt. Bill Dooley said.

Police said around 7:30 p.m., suspect Chad Mazgedian led officers on a short vehicle pursuit. When Mazgedian, 44, stopped, he ran into the Panera restaurant, where officers tackled him.

Dooley said as cops handcuffed and lifted up Mazgedian to arrest him, a device dropped from the suspect’s jacket. Mazgedian told police it was an explosive device, Dooley said.

Mazgedian also said another explosive was in his abandoned car, Dooley added.

The bomb squad later confirmed there was an explosive device inside the Panera but not in the suspect’s car.

Shaw between Marty and Valentine Avenue was shut down and people in nearby businesses including those inside the Applebee’s Grill & Bar and Black Bear Diner were evacuated.

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Larry Valenzuela The Fresno Bee

The area typically is busy throughout the day with several nearby restaurants and stores.

In addition to the northwest Fresno scene, the bomb squad checked Mazgedian’s home. Earlier Wednesday before Mazgedian tried to flee from police, officers had gone there on an outstanding felony warrant.

Mazgedian was not at the home at the time, but officers found explosive material, which prompted police to send out a law enforcement alert for Mazgedian and his car.