July 13 marks the second anniversary of the house bombing that rocked the quiet town of Panaca, Nevada, in 2016.
According to County Sheriff Kerry Lee, there is still no fully explained motive.
Two bombs were detonated by 59-year old Glenn Franklin Jones in front of the home of Joshua and Tiffany Cluff on South 5th Street, as part of a suicide plan. Aside from Jones, only one other person suffered minor injuries.
Lee said, in retrospect, it had all the appearance of suicide car bombs often used in the Middle East including Afghanistan and Pakistan.
“They appeared to be something like dismantled artillery shells that Jones had modified into something like a huge pipe bomb.”
Clark County Coroner John Fudenberg reported Jones committed suicide with “a gunshot wound to the head and suffered blunt force injuries from the second explosion which contributed to his death. We believe Mr. Jones shot himself after igniting the explosive devices.”
Jones first planted a homemade bomb inside the Cluff home, then had one in his car which he parked out front on the street.
As reported in the Record, the double blasts, about 8 p.m., destroyed the Cluff house and shook other homes and windows for blocks. A neighbor, Richard Katschke, reported Jones’ car was completely destroyed.
Fragments of metal and other debris were found scattered around the explosion site covering about a one-mile radius. One household reported a piece of an automobile had fallen through their roof and landed in their living room.
“There’s shrapnel all around town,” Katschke said at the time.
State and local authorities and agencies including the FBI; ATF; Investigations; State Fire Marshal’s office; Division of Forestry; and Nevada Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosive Task Force all rushed to Panaca to help
Governor Brian Sandoval left a meeting of state governors in Iowa early to make a special trip to Panaca to survey the situation, meet with first responders, and attend a community meeting where he stated he would do “whatever it takes to help the community recover from this devastation.” He also highly praised the first responders and local authorities for their work.
In recalling the event this week, Lee said he does not know what help or how much has actually been received from the state over the past two years other than assistance to those who suffered damage to their homes. “They were supposed to tap into the state emergency fund, but I don’t know whether that actually ever happened.”
One man, Wendell Cowart, in the house directly next door to the south of the Cluff’s, is still displaced from his home that was badly damaged.
Lee said, “A church group got together a few weeks ago and were helping put a new roof of the house.”
The Cluff family was not injured. Joshua was working at the Caliente Youth Center at the time.
Lee said Mrs. Cluff and the children were home and “Tiffany actually saw Jones placing a bomb in the garage and trying to light the fuse. She said, ‘What are you doing?’ and was told he was going to blow up the house and if she wanted to save herself and the kids, she better get out of the house. She believed him and quickly left.”
The family later moved to Idaho.
The house and rubble were removed from the lot about six months later and the lot has since been sold to someone else.
Lee said he has not received any more information about the bombing over the past two years, and no clear motive has been established.
“I believe it’s considered a cold case at this time. And I haven’t heard anything yet from the FBI saying it is a closed case.”
In published reports at the time, the Associated Press learned Josh Cluff and Jones at one time worked together at the Grover C. Dils Hospital in Caliente. Cluff was Jones’ supervisor. Jones was later fired from the hospital for the mishandling of narcotics.
Jones had been a licensed practical nurse since 1993, but lost his license with the state Board of Nursing on March 24, 2016, and was not allowed to reapply for the license for five years.
According to reports, Jones and Cluff remained on good terms in the few months following, with Jones even helping Cluff remodel the house.
Local residents said Jones, a widower, “appeared to be a very nice, very friendly man, but one who mostly kept to himself.” They were completely shocked by his actions.
Floyd Jackson reported he had seen Jones “just about an hour before the explosion, talked with him, and didn’t see any sign that he was upset at all. He said he was going to Ely.”
Jones was a known firearms and explosives enthusiast, often handing out business cards in the community that read “Military Collector: Inert Rockets, Practice Bombs, Munitions, and Heavy Ordinance, Glenn Jones.”
Authorities later stated that since moving away from Panaca, Jones had most recently been living in the Zuni Village RV Park, near Kingman, Arizona.
Searching his residence there, authorities discovered a large amount of explosive material at his motorhome and storage shed, along with a number of homemade explosive devices.
Mohave County Sheriff Deputy Rusty Cooper said a total of 15 improvised devices of various sizes and designs were found.
According to Sheriff Lee, later investigations allowed authorities to track some of the places where Jones had used his credit card in the weeks before the bombing. He had been in places such as Colorado, Hawthorne, and Tonopah in Nevada.
“It’s possible,” Lee said, “he bought some of the old disabled artillery shells from the Army Depot in Hawthorne or from someone in that area. He was a known collector of such items.”
Lee at the time, and to this day, still praises the Panaca Volunteer Fire Department and other first responders and members of the community in the way they came together and handled the aftermath that rocked the town on an otherwise quiet summer evening.
“What made it work smoothly for us is that we didn’t have a lot of injuries. That would have really changed the whole dynamic.”
He said in the time since the bombing, he has given a couple of 30-minute PowerPoint presentations to the State Emergency Preparedness Summit in Fallon and at a FEMA training session in Las Vegas.
“It was well received. I dealt with things on what we did right; what we did wrong; how the Incident Command System worked; communications; working with multiple state, federal and local agencies, etc. I’ve even had copies requested from the City of Las Vegas Fire and Rescue and other agencies up north to be utilized in their own training.”