By Chris Conrad
Police are looking for a man who reportedly exploded a propane bomb outside a residence in Rogue River where his ex-girlfriend was staying.
Michael J. Pankey, 30, is wanted on several felony charges, including attempted first-degree assault, coercion, possession of a destructive device and manufacturing a destructive device.
According to Rogue River police Chief Ken Lewis, the intended victim ended a relationship with Pankey two weeks ago and has been staying at a home in the area of Fourth and Berglund streets on the northwest side of town.
On Monday night, the victim was inside the home when she heard the sound of Pankey’s Chevy Blazer coming up the street, Lewis said.
“When she heard the vehicle, she knew it was Pankey and she started yelling that he was going to blow up the house,” Lewis said.
A large explosion rocked the home shortly after Pankey’s Blazer drove away, Lewis said.
Lewis said he heard the explosion from his home nearly a mile away.
“We have spoken to people who told us the shock wave rattled their doors and windows,” Lewis said.
No injuries were reported and no homes were damaged, Lewis said.
Officers arrived on the scene and found shrapnel from the bomb lying in the street. The bomb appeared to be constructed from a Coleman propane cylinder, commonly used with camping stoves and lanterns.
Fortunately, no one was nearby when the bomb exploded, Lewis said.
“Those pieces of shrapnel were large enough to take an arm or leg off,” Lewis said.
Shortly after the explosion, a Rogue River officer stopped Pankey’s car for speeding about two miles from the bomb site.
The officer, who was not working the scene of the explosion, had no knowledge that Pankey was a suspect in the bombing and did not take him into custody. However, the officer found that Pankey was driving without insurance and his car was impounded.
It wasn’t until later that the officer learned that Pankey had been identified as a suspect in the bombing case.
“But we do now have his car,” Lewis said.
The victim told investigators that Pankey had shown an interest in building bombs for some time. She said he had threatened her in the past, saying that he was going to shoot her and blow her up.
The woman said that a month ago her mother heard a bang in her yard and found a partially detonated device and a scattering of cut-up pictures of her daughter. They did not report the incident to the police, Lewis said.
Pankey is a convicted felon and has been known to use methamphetamine, police said.
Anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to call Rogue River police at 541-582-4931 or 541-776-7206.
Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This story originally appeared in Medford Mail Tribune.