Argay Terrace’s ‘RV bomber’ busted in Parkrose

Police arrested the man they believe set off a pipe bomb in a street-camper’s RV in outer East Portland. Here’s what’s been revealed about that bombing …

A pipe bomb, set off in the rear of an RV parked across from Argay Park in the Argay Terrace neighborhood, initiated a multi-agency investigation that ended in an arrest, just days later.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

An explosion on Saturday morning, March 6, rocked the residents of the Argay Terrace neighborhood along NE 141st Drive, near the intersection with Beech Street, across from the southwest corner of Argay Park.

“It made quite a racket,” neighbor James Knorr remarked, as he looked at the RV later that day. “They [in the RV] have been ‘camped’ here for a while; but they they’ve not bothered us,” he told East Portland News.

Members of the Portland Police Arson Unit cordon off the area, as the bombing investigation gets underway. PPB image

The explosion generated numerous calls to the 9-1-1 Center; Portland Police Bureau (PPB) North Precinct officers who were dispatched to the area at 8:41a.m. reported that an explosion had occurred in or near the back of a large recreation vehicle parked along the west side of the street.

The PPB’s Arson Unit was called in investigate. Officers pointed out smoke coming from the RV; but Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) firefighters found no fire, and determined that no one had been injured. They did say that it appeared a pipe bomb had been detonated in the rear of the then-occupied recreational vehicle.

Officials say this RV was actually occupied when the blast was set off.

Portland Fire & Rescue Fire Investigation Unit, Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office, Vancouver Police Department, Clark County Sheriff’s Office, and the Metropolitan Explosive Disposal Unit all contributed to the subsequent investigation.

Late on March 8, PPB and PF&R investigators served arrest and search warrants in Portland and in Vancouver, Washington.

Now facing four Felony charges in connection with the bombing is 24-year-old Jake Kenneth Swingle. MCDC booking photo

Then, on March 9, a PPB official announced that 24-year-old Jake Kenneth Swingle had been arrested, and was booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center early that morning, at 12:35 a.m., on charges of Arson I, Unlawful Manufacture of a Destructive Device, Possession of a Destructive Device, and Unlawful Use of a Weapon.

Suspect officially charged by D.A.
Later on March 9, Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt announced that Swingle had been charged with numerous felonies for allegedly placing a pipe bomb in the rear of an occupied recreational vehicle.

According to court documents, law enforcement observed this storage compartment located in the rear outer quarter panel of the RV that appeared to be blown apart by an explosive device. Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office provided image

The court papers also reported that the damage to the RV resulted in small fragments of cardboard, insulation, plastic, and the metal compartment being deformed as it would have been in an explosion; and that the PF&R Investigator added the rear bumper of the RV was also broken in half by the apparent blast.

Also, in the charging document, the owner of the RV is quoted by investigators as saying that someone named “Jake” had been seen in the area of the RV just before the explosion. “Jake” was later identified as “Jake Swingle.”

Investigators learned Swingle and the RV’s owner had been involved in an ongoing conflict, court documents said.

During the post-blast investigation, investigators with the Metropolitan Explosive Disposal Unit located remnants of a PVC pipe bomb.

These fragments, found at the blast site, were collected soon after the bombing by investigators. Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office provided image

During the investigation, a community member contacted law enforcement with information about Swingle, including a last known address – and provided to the Portland Police detective and to t he bomb technician assigned to the case a video showing an alleged “bomb-making factory” associated with Swingle’s residence.

This information led to Swingles’ arrest in the area of NE 102nd Avenue and Sandy Boulevard in the Parkrose neighborhood.

“A charging document is only an accusation of a crime; Swingle is innocent unless and until proven guilty,” reminded Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office Communications Director Brent Weisberg. Nonetheless, Swingle is lodged in the MCDC in lieu of $265,000 combined bail, for the four felony counts filed against him.

It’s unknown if this RV was still habitable, after it was bombed.

© 2021 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™

 

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