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Police arrest suspect in bomb scare caused by hoax explosive device in Springfield

A man faces accusations he placed the hoax explosive device on a natural gas service line in Springfield that forced the evacuation of hundreds of people from six businesses earlier this month. (Springfield Jail and via Springfield Police)

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. - A man faces accusations he placed the hoax explosive device on a natural gas service line in Springfield that forced the evacuation of hundreds of people from six businesses earlier this month.

Detectives would like to hear from anyone who has more information about the investigation at (541) 726-3714.

In particular, police would like to speak to the driver of a white Chrysler 300 seen dropping the suspect off at his car.

Suspect Arrested

Springfield Police arrested Jesse Powell on Thursday and booked him into the Springfield Municipal Jail on charges of Disorderly Conduct and Unlawful Possession of a Hoax Explosive Device.

Police say Powell placed the device there on the morning of Monday, October 2 - several days before an employee at a nearby business spotted it October 5.

The device - which appeared at first like two sticks of dynamite attached to a cell phone - turned out to be road flares connected to an audio recorder, the bomb squad determined.

Employees Photographed Man 'Acting Out of Place'

Police say they have a photograph of Powell in the area on October 2.

Employees took the photo and wrote down the license plate number of the Mercedes coupe he was driving, Lt. Scott McKee said.

The employees took the photo at the time because they thought he was "acting out of place," McKee said.

Security guards have since reviewed footage and found video of Powell placing the device on the natural gas service off International Way in Springfield, police said.

Question Remains: Why?

Powell has told investigators he ditched the device to avoid an encounter with the police, McKee said.

Powell told investigators he built the device and had it with him on Sunday, October 1, McKee said.

That's when Powell says he got into a dispute near the Motel 6 in the Gateway area of Springfield, McKee said.

As he drove away from that dispute, Powell told investigators that he realized his tires had been slashed, McKee said.

He pulled into the lot on International Way and left the car overnight.

The Chrysler dropped Powell off the next morning.

That's when he took the device and left it on the natural gas line, concerned police might respond and question him.

McKee said the investigation is ongoing and additional charges are possible.

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