The Washington State Patrol’s bomb squad commander has confirmed that a bomb found in a burglary suspect’s backpack Saturday was a viable explosive device.
The suspect, a Montesano man, was caught in a home by a real estate agent, fled and was discovered by police in the Wynooche River near Montesano. He allegedly pointed a gun at the police dog that discovered him, police said.
“Deputies responded to a report of a burglary in progress at a residence” on County Farm Road in Montesano, Undersheriff Brad Johansson said. Before law enforcement could get there, the suspect fled the scene toward the River. Montesano police and state Department of Fish & Wildlife officers contained the area.
A K-9 unit found him “in the Wynooche” as WDFW officers searched from their boat, officials said.
Max, the K-9, found the suspect in the river. “While attempting to apprehend the suspect, he pointed a gun” at Max, officials said.
The suspect was arrested on suspicion of possession of an explosive device, assault and burglary.
Trooper Cliff Pratt, who leads the bomb squad, responded to the scene after the Grays Harbor County Sheriff’s Office asked for help with what they believed to be a viable explosive device.
“I was able to X-ray the IED and confirm that it was a viable device,” Pratt said Monday. “I was able to render it safe and then disassemble it in a manner to save all the components for prosecution.”
He said a pipe bomb would be a “very accurate” description of the device.
“It would have functioned if (the suspect) wanted it to,” he added.
The incident began Saturday when Ryan Reynolds, a real estate agent from Olympia entered the home to prepare it for a showing to potential buyers.
“When I stepped foot in the kitchen, I saw that there was stuff all over the counter and the heater was on,” Reynolds of Weichert-Reynolds Realty, said. “I hollered out, ‘Hello, this is the Realtor.’ And somebody shot down the stairs.”
It’s not unusual for an agent to surprise somebody in a home so he called out again. When he turned around, he saw somebody running toward a shed in the back. He stepped out of the house, locked the door and called police. Within five minutes, he said, law enforcement officers from the Montesano Police, State Patrol, Fish and Wildlife, and Grays Harbor Sheriff’s Office were on scene.
Reynolds said he believed the call that the suspect was caught came within an hour.
The owner of the property, who asked Monday not to be identified, was undoing the damage done to the house. She believed it looked as if somebody had ransacked the shed and had been laying out items in the house, possibly to take.
She stressed her appreciation for the officers’ quick response and ability to catch the suspect. “I can’t tell you how good it felt to know they got him, that I was secure and that he was in jail,” she said. “I could just pull my blinds and go to bed.”