Man arrested on suspicion of killing girlfriend with home-made cannon

Police have arrested a 39-year-old American man suspected of killing his girlfriend by shooting a home-made cannon into a room of their remote California trailer home.

Richard Dale Fox, who was treated for wounds he suffered in the blast, was detained on suspicion of detonating an explosive device in a manner resulting in death, said Sergeant David Martinez, of the San Diego Sheriff's Department.

The bizarre blast and death occurred in a rural mountainous area just north of the California town of Potrero, which is across the border from Tecate, Mexico, and less than 40 miles inland from San Diego. Supt Martinez said it was "too early to say" whether the blast was accidental, but authorities have indicated Mr Fox had been drinking and that he was distraught as emergency responders arrived at the trailer home.

Authorities declined to comment on the nature of the home-made cannon or the projectile it fired, but Supt Martinez said Mr Fox used explosive powder from fireworks to ignite the contraption.

The woman killed by the cannon blast was Mr Fox's 38-year-old girlfriend, according to reports. The name of the woman, who police said died of shrapnel wounds at the scene, was not immediately released. She was inside the trailer home with the couple's four-year-old child and three adults, who were all unharmed.

Mr Fox was taken to a hospital with leg injuries suffered in the blast.