Police continue to investigate a pipe bomb explosion that killed a man on Saturday in Boardman, west of Pendleton. County sheriff's deputies and the Oregon State Police bomb squad responded to the explosion.
Central Oregon correspondent Ethan Lindsey reports that while it's not a trend — some are worried amateur bombmaking is becoming all-too commonplace in some parts of the state.
The Oregon State Police bomb squad responded to a reported pipe bomb in the Pendleton Cinemas parking lot last week. The bomb turned out to be a hoax, but what happened Saturday was not.
Sheriff Ken Matlack said early in that evening 9-1-1 operators received an emergency call, reporting an explosion and a fireball - from a rural farmhouse.
Matlack said when sheriffs reached the farm, they found chaos.
Ken Matlack: “There was an immediate fireball that set the victim on fire, basically from his waist up. In addition there was shrapnel damage to the shop that blew through the metal siding of the shop and basically every side of the shop had shrapnel.”
John Brandon Paradiso, a 29-year-old man had been building several pipebombs with what sheriff's think was unexploded ordinance from an old military base near Boardman.
State police say they located another stockpile of old military ammunition in the area as recently as March of last year.
Ken Matlack: “We're getting information that the device was filled with old military ammunition. This being the old bombing range area, quite possibly could have been military ordnance from one of their military aircraft during World War Two.”
Sheriff Matlack says witnesses and friends say Paradiso had built these bombs before, and was not planning on hurting anyone with them. Matlack says he suspects the motive was to blow up old cars and sell the scrap metal for a profit.
To the sheriff, that's just further indication that more people are attempting to build these things.
Ken Matlack: “More and more people are learning how to do it on the Internet. More and more people are seeing it on TV. And they have a better understanding of these types of devices, not unlike the devices in Iraq. Roadside devices. They're bombs and that's the type of damage they do.”
The Oregon State bomb squad responded to the call as well. Detective Carl Farber says he's seen this before - and he'll see it again.
Carl Farber: “They've been making pipe bombs for a long time, people have. It's just an unfortunate event happened this time while he was making the device. It's very dangerous, it's not something people should attempt - no one should.”
The Oregon State police bomb squad responds to about 300 calls per year around the state, about 100 are for amateur bombs like this one.