Clint Mecham first saw newspaper photos of 18-year-old Kendra McKenzie Gill when she was crowned Miss Riverton and then later when she rode in the Utah town's Fourth of July parade.
He didn’t think he’d ever see a photo of her like this -- not a mug shot. But the Utah beauty queen was arrested over the weekend and charged with assembling homemade bombs and throwing them from a car, many of them at people, authorities said.
“This is one of those bizarre cases when you say to yourself, ‘Of all people,'" Mecham, a captain with the local United Fire Authority, told the Los Angeles Times. “You’d never think of seeing that young girl’s face in a booking photo.”
Gill and three others were arrested after police said they threw at least nine makeshift explosives from a passing car in neighborhoods of the community of 40,000 residents, about 20 miles south of Salt Lake City.
Mecham said the bombs were made of plastic bottles, aluminum foil and household chemicals. He said no one was injured.
“These things create a little bang, but they contained chemicals that could cause burns,” Mecham told The Times. “They can even kill people.”
Gill was charged with 10 counts of detonating an incendiary device.
“We think this was more than just some innocent high school prank,” Mecham said. “The charges reflect that. They’re quite serious.”
Gill bested eight other contestants earlier this summer for the crown of Miss Riverton, 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."
Riverton pageant officials were expected to issue a decision in Gill's case Monday.
Mecham said he hoped Gill would not lose her scholarship.
“All these kids were 18, but in the eyes of the law, they’re adults,” he told The Times. “Was this a case where good people made bad decisions? Probably.”