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 had broken up 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.
Sure enough, a large explosion rocked the home shortly after Pankey's Blazer drove away, Lewis said.
Lewis 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 to power 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.
As Pankey was driving home after the explosion, a Rogue River officer stopped his car for speeding about two miles from the bomb site.
This officer was not working the scene of the explosion and had no knowledge that Pankey was a suspect in the bombing. 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 was identified as a suspect in the bombing case.
"But we do now have his car," Lewis said.
The victim told investigators that Pankey has shown interest in building bombs for some time. He has threatened the victim in the past, saying that he was going to shoot her and blow her up.
A month ago, the victim's 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 this previous incident to the police, Lewis said.
Pankey is a convicted felon and has been know 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.
— Chris Conrad