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Propane-tank IED blows up at DA’s office, closing offices and courts for much of day

Posted Nov 13, 2013 1:20 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Updated: An improvised explosive device utilizing a propane tank broke windows and caused a fire when it blew up outside an entrance to the district attorney's office for Jackson County, Ore., early Wednesday.

However, the damage that resulted could have been much worse if the device had fully detonated, the Mail Tribune reports.

"I think that it's safe to assume that had this bomb went off as it was intended to, it would have most likely destroyed most of the building, and we believe that was the intent of the suspect," said Lt. Mike Budreau of the Medford police department.

No one was injured by the blast, which occurred at about 4:30 a.m. Witnesses including police officers heard a sound like a burst of thunder up to a mile from the site, Budreau told the Oregonian.

He said the fuse for the IED exploded, but the 7-pound propane tank didn't. Nonetheless, it created a fire that looked like a "huge blow torch."

Police Chief Tim George said at a press conference that the motive for the attack is unknown but authorities are confident they will identify a suspect, reports KING.

DA Beth Heckert said she is surprised that the office building was targeted, the station reports. "We upset people and we get people angry but nothing specific stands out that would alert us that this would happen," she said. "There's nothing we knew prior to this that would have told us anything like this would happen."

Both the DA's office and courtrooms at nearby Justice Center were closed until at least early afternoon Wednesday. Attorney William Fowler, whose business law practice neighbors the DA's office, said he wasn't allowed to use his front door at 8 a.m. but was finally permitted to gain access through a back door for a 9 a.m. phone hearing.

The Associated Press, KOBI/KOTI and KPTV also have stories.

An investigation continues by local authorities, the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives of the U.S. Department of Justice.

Updated at 3:55 p.m. to include information from KING.

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