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Investigators Arrest Springfield Man In Hoax Bomb Case

Springfield Police Department

Police have arrested a Springfield man connected to a fake bomb scare earlier this month.  

43-year-old Jesse Wade Powell was observed by employees at Professional Credit Service earlier in the week leading up to October 5, behaving suspiciously near their building as they arrived to work at 400 International Way.   A device resembling a bomb was found left near a gas line later, prompting Springfield Police and a bomb squad from the Eugene Police Department to arrive and investigate.  Nearly 200 employees were evacuated during the incident.

Ultimately, the device was found to be two road flares attached to a recording device.  It was dismantled by a robot.

In addition to some of the calls made about Powell’s behavior, another employee took down his vehicle’s license plate number while another took a photo with his smart phone.

Credit Springfield Police Department
Springfield Police Department
An employee took this photo of Jesse Wade Powell in their parking lot a few days prior to the fake bomb being discovered.

Investigators also reviewed video surveillance footage of Powell returning to the parking lot at night, placing the hoax bomb on the top of a structure where it was found by an employee a few days later.  Powell’s Mercedes was left in the lot overnight.

Upon his arrest nearly two weeks after the fake bomb was found and dismantled, Powell told investigators he left the device after a dispute near Gateway’s Motel 6 the evening of October 2nd.  Powell said his tires were slashed and – according to a Springfield Police release – he believed police were summoned.

Credit Springfield Police Department
Springfield Police Department
Bomb crews prepare to send a bomb-robot to the suspicious device found outside a debt collection center in Springfield, October 5, 2017.

SPD officials say Powell is a career criminal who knew he’d get into trouble for the hoax bomb.  He says he “hastily” drove to International Way where he left the device on a rooftop so not to be caught with it.  Police remain skeptical and are still investigating.

Anyone with further information on Powell, the hoax device, or how it may have been used for robberies or other unlawful behavior are encouraged to call SPD Detective Justin Myers at (541)726-3714.  There’s also an anonymous tip line at (541)726-3773.

Powell is charged with First Degree Disorderly Conduct, as well as Unlawful Possession of a Hoax Destructive Device.

Authorities are praising the alertness demonstrated by employees at Professional Credit Service, calling it a model others should follow. 

“This mystery would have never been solved had it not been for the diligence of these employees who not only discovered the device and directed a full-scale and orderly evacuation, but also later conducted their own investigation and put the pieces together,” says SPD  Lieutenant Scott McKee.  

Copyright 2017, KLCC. 

Brian Bull is an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Oregon, and remains a contributor to the KLCC news department. He began working with KLCC in June 2016.   In his 27+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (22 regional),  the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from  the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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