Oregon man held after bombing at girlfriend's home

GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) A man was arrested Wednesday night on charges he tossed a homemade bomb at a house in southern Oregon where his ex-girlfriend took refuge after breaking up with him.

Michael J. Pankey, 30, was initially pulled over Monday night for speeding shortly after the bomb exploded a few blocks from the center of Rogue River, but he was released before police knew he was involved, said Chief Ken Lewis.

"We had him, we lost him, and we got him again," Lewis said.

In the initial stop, Pankey's SUV was impounded for driving on a suspended license without insurance, and he was arrested Wednesday night a few miles out of town after his ex-girlfriend told police he had threatened to blow up her house or car after their breakup, Lewis said. The 18-year-old woman was with him when he was arrested.

Pankey was held in the Jackson County Jail in Medford on $1 million bail awaiting arraignment on charges of manufacturing and possessing a destructive device, coercion and assault, according to jail records.

Lewis said the bomb appears to have been a small propane cylinder like those used for camp stoves, filled with gunpowder and equipped with a fuse. No one was injured in the blast, which sent shock waves through town.

The woman had taken refuge in the Rogue River home after breaking up with Pankey about two weeks ago. After the split, Pankey told her he would blow up her car or her house, Lewis said. A witness told investigators that he saw a camping gas cylinder with a fuse sticking out earlier in Pankey's Blazer.

Lewis described Pankey as a drifter who lived in a trailer he parked on people's properties in exchange for doing odd jobs.

Monday night, the woman heard the loud, thumping boom of the stereo in Pankey's vehicle and screamed to the others that he was coming, then there was a loud explosion outside, Lewis said.

"I live nine-tenths of a mile away and was working in my garage with the door up," Lewis said. "I felt the shockwave roll up the hill."

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press

close video ad
Unmutetoggle ad audio on off