ANAHEIM, Calif., (UPI) — A Disneyland employee charged with setting off a dry-ice explosion at the California theme park pleaded not guilty Thursday in Orange County Superior Court.
Christian Barnes, 22, of Long Beach, is charged with felony possession of a destructive device in a public place. If convicted, he could be sentenced to six years in prison, the Los Angeles Times reported.
He entered his plea via video from his cell at the Orange County Jail, where he was ordered held on $500,000 bail — down from the $1 million set when he was initially arrested.
Prosecutors said Barnes — who worked as an outdoor vendor, selling water and soft drinks at the theme park — set off a dry-ice explosion in a vending cart in the park’s Mickey’s Toontown section at about 4 p.m. Tuesday before dropping a water bottle containing dry ice into a trashcan, which exploded as a park employee was changing a full bag for a fresh one.
The second blast, at about 5 p.m., prompted an hours-long evacuation of Mickey’s Toontown.
Disneyland said on its Twitter account there were no injuries and no reports of damage.
Sgt. Bob Dunn of the Anaheim Police Department said Wednesday Barnes was cooperating with investigators and “has indicated this is an isolated incident with unanticipated impacts.”
Some of Barnes’ relatives attended the court session Thursday, including his grandmother, Flora Barnes, who said her grandson is “the nicest person I know,” the Times said.
“He’s a wonderful kid,” she said. “He’s a kid who wouldn’t hurt anyone.”
Although the explosion did not cause significant damage, Disneyland spokeswoman Suzi Brown said in a statement the park takes “matters like this very seriously.”