Officer, bomb expert killed in blast ID'd

Officer, bomb expert killed in blast ID'd »Play Video
Officials are seen Saturday outside the West Coast Bank in Woodburn, Ore., where a bomb blast killed a local police officer and a state bomb disposal technician.

WOODBURN, Ore. (AP) — A bomb blast at a Woodburn-area bank killed a local police officer and a state bomb disposal technician.

Police said Saturday they had no suspects and didn't know the motive.

"That person is dangerous and needs to be found as soon as possible," said Lt. Gregg Hastings, spokesman for the Oregon State Police.

The explosion occurred late Friday afternoon after police arrived at the West Coast Bank branch office to check a suspicious device.

Late Friday, police said a Woodburn police officer died from the explosion. On Saturday, the State Police said one of their bomb technicians had also died at the scene.

The dead were identified as Senior Trooper William Hakim and Woodburn police Capt. Tom Tennant, both 51.

Woodburn Police Chief Scott Russell, 46, was injured and in critical condition at a Portland hospital in intensive care Saturday afternoon.

State police say the inside of the bank was extensively damaged, and a female employee was treated at Salem Hospital and released. Another bank employee was uninjured.

Hastings declined to describe the bomb in detail but indicated it was powerful.

A bank employee found the bomb in bushes outside the bank, and officers took it inside, when it exploded.

There was no explanation Saturday for their action.

"That we don't know," Hastings said when asked why the bomb had been taken inside.

On Saturday, police opened up a large area around the bank that had been sealed, and allowed traffic to move freely on a state highway, Oregon 214, near the bank office. Earlier, they had said there was no evidence of more bombs.

A spokesman said there were close to 75 investigators at one point, from local, state and two federal agencies, the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Detectives were still in the bank building on Saturday.

The federal agencies were acting as advisers and hadn't taken control of the case, said Marion County Undersheriff Jason Myers. "At this point, it's still a local-level investigation," he said.

The explosion at 5:24 p.m. Friday followed a bomb threat call to a nearby Wells Fargo branch bank. The State Police said Saturday that investigators found "a suspicious object" that turned out to be harmless.

But the police said their investigation "led next door to the West Coast Bank," where the bomb was found.

Hastings said he didn't know of any grudges against the West Coast Bank.

Bank President and CEO Robert Sznewajs said he, too, didn't know of a grudge or other motive. "We're not aware of anything," he said.

He said the bank manager found the device Friday in a survey of the bank's grounds undertaken after an employee got a call about the Wells Fargo incident and law enforcement officers had made a check.

Joe Langley, who pumps gas at a Union 76 station a few blocks away, said the blast sounded like thunder, and the crime is a "total mystery."

"It's just a small bank with nice people working there," he said Saturday. "I don't know why anybody would do this."

Woodburn is in the Willamette Valley, about halfway between the capital, Salem, and Portland. It has a population of about 21,000 and is home to many blue-collar and agricultural workers in the region's extensive nursery crops business.

The two bank buildings are near each other in a commercial strip through the center of town.

The state police say Hakim, on the force 11 years, was the 28th trooper to die in the line of duty, and the second detective in the Arson and Explosives Section. The first was in 1997, Sgt. Richard Schuening, the police said.

The police said he is survived by a wife, a 16-year old son and 18-year old daughter.

Tennant was a 28-year veteran of the Woodburn force, the police said, with a wife and children ages 24, 22 and 17.

Federal authorities said Saturday they were offering a $35,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the case.

Gov. Ted Kulongoski issued a statement saying, "Oregon lost two brave and honorable men last night, and another was critically injured, in a tragedy that will forever be remembered in our state's history."

Oregon State Police released the following information regarding the backgrounds of the three officers involved in the incident:

Senior Trooper William "Bill" Hakim

Hakim, 51, was hired by the Oregon State Police on July 1, 1997, and stationed at the Klamath Falls Area Command office in the Patrol Services Division.  On March 1, 1999, he transferred to the Salem Area Command office as a detective in the Arson and Explosives Section.  He has also been involved with the Oregon State Police SWAT team and has taught other law enforcement officers about arson and bomb investigations.

Hakim is married and has a 16-year old son and an 18-year old daughter.

Twenty-eight Oregon State Police troopers have died in the line of duty. The last on duty death occurred September 4, 2001.

Hakim is the second Oregon State Police Arson & Explosives Section detective to die in the line of duty. The first was Sgt. Richard Schuening on October 2, 1997.

Information regarding all Oregon State Police troopers lost in the line of duty is available here.

Captain Tom Tennant

Tennant, 51, was hired with the Woodburn Police Department on Sept. 8, 1980, as a police officer. He was promoted to the rank of Captain on Nov. 1, 2004. Tennant served as the administrative captain, overseeing both the Investigation and Records Divisions. Tennant has served as a police officer, patrol sergeant and detective sergeant. He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy.

Tennant is survived by his wife as well as two daughters and a son who are ages 24, 22 and 17.

Chief Scott Russell

Russell, 46, was hired with the Woodburn Police Department on Aug. 22, 1988, as a police officer. He has served as a patrol officer, detective, patrol sergeant and deputy chief. Russell is a graduate of the FBI National Academy and is active in the Oregon Association of Chiefs of Police.

Russell is married and has two daughters, ages 12 and 10.