ARLINGTON (CBS 11 NEWS) – Diane Erazo was walking her dog in her south Arlington neighborhood Saturday evening when she noticed a bucket with smoke pouring out of it between the vehicles parked in her neighbor’s driveway.  By the time she walked to her neighbor’s door to tell them, flames were roaring out of the bucket.

“It was almost like a backdraft, you know, when the fire just rolls over the top of the car,” Erazo recalled. “At that point, I started screaming like, ‘There’s fire! There’s fire!'”

Erazo couldn’t have known how much danger she and her neighbors were in. Investigators say the bucket contained rifle ammunition, buckshot and rags soaked in gasoline. It was a homemade bomb.

“And then we heard some popping, almost like in the movies when they say, ‘Pop! Pop! Pop!'” Erazo said of the ammunition firing off. “That’s when I started screaming ‘Get down!'”

Erazo’s neighbor managed to kick the bucket over and extinguish the flames. That’s when they saw the rifle shells spill out.

“It was scary,” Erazo said.  “It was really freaking scary!”

Documents show a witness told police they saw Michael Alex Johnson walk out of his parent’s home two doors down with the bucket. They say they saw Johnson  set it between his neighbor’s cars, light it and return to his parent’s house.

Police searched the house and according to a warrant, investigators found: “Galvanized pipe with drilled end caps screwed into both ends; smokeless powder inside pipe; hobby fuse located adjacent to pipe; with the intent to combine the components into an explosive weapon for use in a criminal endeavor.”

Neighbors were surprised by the discovery.

“Extremely surprised,” said Walt Ferguson, who often looks after his grandchildren at his son’s home next door. “But in this day and age you never know what’s going to happen. So, just wouldn’t have expected it.”

Johnson’s father told us his son is mentally ill possibly with schizophrenia.

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