Nov 14, 2013 9:04 AM
MEDFORD, Ore. - Dozens of federal investigators specializing in bomb attacks from around the Northwest gathered to help sift the evidence left when an improvised explosive device partially detonated in front of an Oregon district attorney's office, blowing out windows, but doing no serious damage.
With no suspects and no indication why someone would try to destroy the Jackson County District Attorney's Office, Medford Police Chief Tim George said Wednesday the bits of evidence left from the bomb would be crucial to catching whoever was responsible.
"How it was constructed, what was used, all that kind of stuff is all part and parcel of where we are going with this," George said.
The explosion was heard by local residents at about 4:30 a.m., police said. When firefighters arrived, they found a 5-gallon portable propane tank on fire, and some windows blown out in the one-story brick building, but little other damage. No one was injured.
"The bomb squad on scene said had it detonated, there would have been devastation at the scene and the building would have been destroyed." said Medford police spokesman Lt. Mike Budreau. "We believe there was something else attached to (the propane tank) that was intended to blow it up, but was not successful."
About 25 investigators from FBI and the ATF office as far as Seattle joined state and local police in the investigation, George said.
While George termed the blast an act of domestic terrorism, aimed at law enforcement, the FBI reserved judgment.
"The explosive device was clearly intended to target a government facility, the DA's office," Greg Fowler, special agent in Charge of the FBI in Oregon, said in a statement. "An attack on such a visible symbol of government and justice demands our singular focus."
After the explosion, a silver-colored propane tank, similar to those used for camping, lay on its side, with a deep oblong dent visible, in front of the broken windows at the prosecutor's office, located in a quiet neighborhood down the street from a church, and across the street from the jail and courthouse. Yellow crime scene tape surrounded the area and evidence markers dotted the parking lot.
Budreau said they were searching for a man who ran from an officer several blocks away, but it's unclear if he had anything to do with the explosion.
While the district attorney's office regularly gets threats from people, none stand out as potentially related, District Attorney Beth Heckert said.