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Deputies: Suspect in explosion case may lose some fingers, possibly hand

A puff of smoke from an explosion inside a car can be seen in this still image sent to KATU from a viewer. Authorities say a man set off a small handheld device during a traffic stop, injuring himself and a Washington County Sheriff's Office detective. (Photo: Eli Fowler)

HILLSBORO, Ore. – The Washington County Sheriff’s Office said the suspect who was in a vehicle when an explosive device went off Wednesday could lose some fingers and possibly his hand.

Court documents also show authorities found explosives in that suspect's Rock Creek apartment rigged to be set off by remote.

Deputies say the suspect in the explosives investigation, Jason Schaefer, 26, has not been booked into the Washington County Jail yet because he’s still in the hospital.

Investigators believe he intentionally tried to set off a handheld device inside a vehicle during a traffic stop on Northwest Rock Creek Boulevard.

"As the detectives approached the window, they were actually communicating with him at the window of the vehicle when he did detonate the device," said Sgt. Bob Ray of the sheriff's office.

The explosion also injured a deputy. The sheriff’s office says he’s taking a couple days off and he has some hearing loss. He was treated and released from a local hospital Wednesday.

Schaefer was arrested in April and pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of body armor.

Sherry Clopf was a neighbor of Schaefer's at the Beaverton apartment complex where he had moved in 6 months before his arrest and saw Schaefer involved in some strange activity right away.

"The packages kept coming and the strange behavior in the garage," said Clopf, "So I emailed the FBI, and I said I think you need to keep your eye on this guy."

Clopf said investigators told her what they found in Schaefer's apartment that day.

"And they said it looked like a biochemist's lab in there," said Clopf. "There was so much equipment and stuff. And oddly enough, I got worried and couldn't sleep at night, and I thought, boy, if he does something like a meth lab or something and it blows up, we're done for. So I started sleeping in a guest room because we share a bedroom wall."

Initial reports say FBI agents were serving a search warrant in an apartment on Rock Creek Circle as part of an explosives case when just before 4 p.m. a sheriff's detective spotted the suspect returning home.

The affidavit filed for an arrest warrant against Schaefer says FBI agents contacted local authorities Sept. 28, saying Schaefer had purchased "one pound of hexamine" a week earlier.

The affidavit says that chemical is often used to produce Hexamethylene tripereroxide diamine, also known by its acronym HMTD, a substance the FBI says in the court filing is often used in homemade explosives and in suicide bombings.

The affidavit also explains how Schaefer ended up back at his apartment as authorities searched it.

The arrest affidavit says Schaefer was told to report to his probation officer in an effort to keep him away from the apartment during the search, but Schaefer ran out of the office suddenly and apparently drove toward his apartment.

Deputies and troopers tried to pull the suspect over. After a brief chase, the suspect stopped on Rock Creek Boulevard and appeared to detonate a device.

The suspect got out of the SUV and officers took him into custody on a probation violation. The FBI says he could face more charges, but at this time its investigation is part of a sealed federal search warrant.

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