Friday, December 12, 2008

Bomb explodes at Woodburn bank, kills at least one

WOODBURN -- A bomb exploded at a West Coast Bank branch in Woodburn Friday, killing at least one person, and injuring at least two others.

The bomb detonated late afternoon around 5:45 p.m. at the bank in the 2500 block of Newberg Highway.

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A Marion County deputy medical examiner said he was en route to the scene, saying that he was told of at least one fatality. He added that police were concerned about a secondary device in the area.

The bank had been evacuated before the bomb detonated, according to West Coast Bank chief executive Robert Sznewajs. The branch has been there for at least 10 years, he said.

He said two employees sustained some injuries, but not life-threatening. But the blast caused serious injuries to an unspecified number of officers, according to an Oregon State Police release. The ATF said it knew of one bomb technician who had been injured.

Oregon State Police Lt. Gregg Hastings declined to provide much detail. But earlier in the day, an Oregon State Police bomb technician, the FBI and Woodburn Police were investigating a suspicious device at West Coast Bank.

The Woodburn Independent is reporting that that all houses to the south Oregon Way and Evergreen Avenue are being evacuated and U.S. Bank is also being evacuated.

FBI spokesman Jane Brillhart has been confirmed there are injuries, however, the extent of those injuries is not known at this time, the newspaper said.

This bank is close to the Wells Fargo Bank, where earlier in the day the FBI, Oregon State Police and the Woodburn Police Department were investigating a suspicious package, the newspaper said.

However, Brillhart said there was no explosive device at the Wells Fargo Bank, which is located at 2600 Newberg Hwy. Brillhart could not comment further on the West Coast Bank blast as FBI investigators are en route. A spokesman for the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives said the agency had also dispatched a team to the scene.

Sznewajs, of West Coast Bank, said he believed a second call specific to West Coast Bank came in after the Wells Fargo search. Officers checked the property and found something in the bushes, he said.

The sudden blast shook up area residents.

"It sounded like somebody tossing a Dumpster off a three-story building," said Jan Olson, who was smoking on her deck in the nearby Evergreen Estates apartment complex.

Jasmine Colombo, 13, said the blast rattled her apartment complex.

"The lights flickered and we felt the building shake"



I live about a dozen blocks from this bank.  As I posted earlier I was in the area (even closer than my house) not two hours before the blast.  I even heard it go off.  But I'm not close enough for it to piqued my interest that much.


A couple of thoughts though.  Not that I want to second guess or armchair quarterback the officers, but...


I can't help but wonder why they would move the device into the bank, if those reports are correct.


If it is a live device, moving it isn't a good idea.  Further, moving a live device into a contained area, other than a purpose built bomb container, isn't a good idea either. And if you're going to violate those two bad ideas, the last thing you want to do is put people into the same contained area as the live device. A blast that would be survivable outside and un-contained can be lethal in a confined space.




Local TV news said the Woodburn chief of police is at OHSU hospital in critical condition.  I've also got unconfirmed reports that three officers have been fatally injured.


Update 23:00


Confirmed on TV news. Woodburn police officer fatally injured, Woodburn Chief of police in Critical condition, Oregon State Police bomb Technician injured.


Area still blocked off, police say they are looking for more devices.  Houses evacuated for area for six blocks.


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