published Monday, August 5th, 2013

Utah pageant winner accused of throwing bombs

  • photo
    This photo released by the Salt Lake County Jail shows Kendra McKenzie Gill, who was arrested with three others on Saturday Aug. 3, 2013, after allegedly throwing homemade bombs from her car. Gill was recently crowned Miss Riverton, Utah. (AP Photo/Salt Lake County Jail)

SALT LAKE CITY — A woman who recently was crowned Miss Riverton after wowing the judges on the piano is accused of exercising a more sinister talent -- cooking up homemade bombs and throwing them from a car.

Kendra McKenzie Gill and three others were arrested Saturday after allegedly tossing makeshift explosives in neighborhoods at least nine times. Police said the four admitted buying plastic bottles, aluminum foil and household chemicals before assembling the devices.

"They were throwing them at both property and people," Unified Fire Authority Capt. Clint Mecham told KUTV-TV, adding that nobody was injured. "This goes well beyond a teenage prank."

Gill, who was 18 at the time of her June 8 pageant win, was booked on suspicion 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 reportedly told police that he and his friends were "pranking" with fireworks.

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

"They can do a great deal of damage to property," Mecham told KSL-TV. "They can sever limbs. They can even kill people."

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."

Representatives for the Miss Riverton and Miss Utah pageants, which are preliminary competitions for the Miss America contest, didn't immediately return calls seeking comment Monday.

About 40,000 people live in Riverton, which is 20 miles south of Salt Lake City.

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