A 26-year-old Portland detonated an explosive device inside his SUV during a traffic stop Wednesday night, seriously injuring himself and also wounding a Washington County Sheriff’s deputy, authorities said.
The sheriff’s office and the FBI were serving a search warrant at the apartment of Jason Schaefer to look for explosive materials when he arrived at home and drove off, KOIN-TV reports. Schaefer was already on probation after pleading guilty to being a felon in possession of body armor in May.
A deputy spotted Schaefer’s SUV and pursued him out of the apartment complex. Schaefer came to a stop because of traffic after a brief chase, police said. As the detective approached his SUV, Schaefer detonated the small device, causing a “significant blast,” Sergeant Bob Ray told reporters.
Schaefer was seriously wounded, with injuries mostly to his appendages, Ray said. He remained hospitalized Wednesday night. The deputy was taken to the hospital with minor injuries and has since been released.
“It could have been much much worse,” Ray said. “It’s bad enough as it is, you have a couple people that fortunately it didn’t end up worse than it did turn out.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. A Witness Says There Was a ‘Real Loud Bang’ & Then He Saw a ‘Guy Leaning Out of the Car With Blood’
FBI agents, with the help of Washington County Sheriff’s deputies, were serving a federal search warrant at Jason Paul Schaefer’s 18840 NW Rock Creek Circle apartment complex when the incident occurred, the Beth Anne Steele, a spokesperson for the FBI’s Portland Office, said in a news release.
“At approximately 3:56 p.m., FBI task force officers with Washington County Sheriff’s Office and Oregon State Police attempted a traffic stop near NW 185th Avenue and NW Rock Creek Boulevard. The driver, believed to be the resident of the apartment being searched, did not stop,” Steele said. “A brief pursuit began, but ended quickly. There appeared to be a small explosion inside the vehicle. The suspect exited the vehicle, and officers took him into custody for a probation violation. Investigators and prosecutors will determine any other possible charges in the future.”
The explosion occurred in heavy traffic and near Schaefer’s apartment complex in Rock Creek, and not far from a park, according to KOIN-TV.
“Heard the cops screaming and yelling, ‘get out the car! Get out the car!’ and shortly after a real loud noise,” Derrick Gonzalez told KOIN. “Saw that there was a guy leaning out of the car with blood.”
A man who saw the incident told the news station he had stopped to watch the action with his daughter and hit the ground with her when the bang was heard.
Another witness captured the moment of the explosion on video. Deputies can be seen with their guns drawn near the SUV, and one is approaching the window when the blast occurs:
“A Washington County Sheriff’s Deputy who was approaching the vehicle as the explosion occurred has been transferred to a local hospital for evaluation. The suspect was also transferred to a local hospital for evaluation,” Steele said. “At this time, there is no known threat to public safety.”
Sergeant Bob Ray, a spokesman for the sheriff’s office, told reporters they were looking for Schaefer, who was a “person they were interested in,” while the search warrant was being executed.
“At which point detectives did see the subject in question, Mr. Schaefer, did drive by the area,” Ray said. “They attempted to stop him in his vehicle, he took off, but he got stalled up in traffic here shortly after he took off here from the detectives.”
Police have not said what kind of explosive device Schaefer detonated, but said he had to light it to set it off. Ray said no shots were fired during the incident, Schaefer’s only injuries came from the blast. He said the deputies had to pull Schaefer out of the SUV after the explosion, which was a dangerous operation because of the concern about other devices being in the vehicle.
Ray said deputies were assisting the FBI in serving the warrant.
“Obviously this is a very hazardous occupation, it’s one that we do take very seriously, we do receive extensive training and we’ve already thought about the scenarios before they actually happen, so it’s not a surprise to us when something tragic or unplanned does happen,” Ray said. “It’s one of those situations that again we did it the best we could as far as maintaining safety for everyone.”
The injured deputy suffered some hearing loss and is expected to take a few days off, police said.
2. The FBI Says He Bought ‘Numerous Items That Were Causing Concern, Including Pound of Hexamine, a Material Often Used in Sucicide Bombings
According to a bench warrant that was issued for Schaefer on October 11, the FBI learned in September that he was buying “numerous items that were causing concern,” KOIN-TV reports. Those items includes explosive liquid, remotes to remotely set off fireworks, more than 100 electric matches and at least a pound of hexamine, a material that is used to make home-made explosives, including those frequently used in suicide bombings, the news station reports.
The FBI said they had probable cause to arrest him on a charge of being a felon in possession of explosives, a violation of his probation.
The search warrant for Schaefer’s apartment was approved by a federal judge on Tuesday, KGW-TV reports. Schaefer was brought to the probation department that day to be interviewed by agents, but the news station reports he stormed out of the interview and his whereabouts were unknown until Wednesday.
Schaefer was arrested in April and charged with being a felon in possession of body armor. He pleaded guilty to the class C felony in May and was sentenced to 18 months of supervised probation. Details of the previous felony on his record were not immediately available.
A neighbor wrote on Schaefer’s Facebook page, “The guy lived in my apartment complex here at Rock Creek 185. I never spoken to him but would always see him on the bus or at the store and I sometime saw him with a guitar on his back. He was always alone too but I figured maybe he was the loner singer/songwriter type. Never would have thought he’d be into explosives … Whatever he was making in that apartment of his or whatever his intentions were I don’t know, but he put a lot of people in harms way, especially those that lived next door to him. I’m curious to know what his motives were.”
3. He Posted on Facebook About Considering Going to a High School to Sell Fireworks & Cigarettes &
Using Smoke Grenades to Escape If Caught
Schaefer had recently posted on Facebook, possibly as a joke, about selling fireworks at a high school.
“I am considering, going to a high school after classes, opening by back door with a fireworks sign, and sell mini, tiny fireworks and cigarettes. I don’t know if someone should stop me, I’ll make smoke grenades during getaway,” Schaefer wrote on October 6.
Schaefer posted on Facebook multiple times on Wednesday, while police were attempting to locate him. At 11:48 a.m. he wrote, “Love downtown….” An hour later he wrote, “To be anybody, is not to be,” followed by, “To bear no resposibility (sic),” 20 minutes after that.
On October 10, he wrote, “If all the world just gave to North Korea…,” and the day before he said, “America’s greatest export is laughter.”
A Facebook friend replied with a graphic of an explosion, and said “America’s greatest export is this.”
Schaefer replied, “It is an export,” and his friend said, “Blacks in America Time Bomb,” and Schaefer replied, “There are always time bombs in america.”
He also got into a conversation about atheism:
I don’t think I can explain. My thoughts on atheism surround creationism, the laws of physics according to Stephen Hawking, and a practice or existence to “step away” from that which you were, yesterday. Anything or everything you were, to be non existent unto what are today…. Choice and consideration into every minute of every day, never accepting a loss in the possibilities. In this schematics we as humans and people are objects. This schematics could be considered atheist, as it does not involve a God. It does involve something greater than ourselves, in it’s relation to physics, and is subjective, allows for human emotions, in acceptance of a religious model called creationism.
One of the laws of physics is that you and I have no choice, that every event that ever happens including myself typing these words, happens exactly as it is supposed to. Because it is supposed to, is not to say that any event is predetermined or has a determined following event.
On October 6, he wrote, “I just solved the energy crisis. I’m on it’s tail, we can’t see it today, and it is as a good as solved.” Three days earlier he said, “Work hard, and be happy and proud. Say I’m sorry, and don’t die wondering.”
Along with his profile photo, his only other public photo is a meme about DMT, a psychedelic drug:
On May 12, he wrote, “There are no alchemists THAT WE KNOW OF.”
On Tuesday, not long after running from his interview with federal agents, Schaefer wrote a five-star review on Elon Musk’s Facebook page, saying, “It’s his existence that’s awe inspiring, to me. The way the dude ‘operates.'”
4. He Was Charged With Domestic Violence in 2013 When His Then-Wife Accused Him of Choking Her During an Outburst Caused by His Mental Illness
Jason Schaefer is originally from Buffalo, New York, according to his Facebook page. Public records show he grew up in Clarence Center, New York. It is not clear how long he has been living in Portland. He says on Facebook that he is “self-employed.”
Schaefer was arrested on May 22, 2013, in Orlando, Florida, on felony domestic violence charges in connection to an incident with his then-wife, according to Orange County court records obtained by Heavy. The district attorney declined to prosecute the case in July 2013.
According to court documents, Schaefer’s wife said she was sitting on the sofa in their apartment when he walked over to her and suddenly “attacked” her, placing his hand around her throat, and began choking her for “a good minute.” She said police Schaefer told her he wanted to kill her. He then told the victim to get out of the apartment and “dragged” her from the sofa by her hair to the door, police said. He “slammed” her head against the door and pushed her out of the apartment without her shoes, the woman told police.
Schaefer also tried to pull out a peripherally inserted central catheter, or PICC line, that she had inserted into her right arm for medical treatment, according to court documents. The woman told police she tried to call 911, but Schaefer took away the phone.
The woman said she ran barefoot to the nearby Pasadena Treatment Center, where she tried to make contact with her counselor. An officer was called to the center, and he said the victim was crying and upset. She looked disheveled, but did not have any injuries and declined medical treatment, the officer said.
A witness told police that the victim burst into the treatment center, “hysterically crying” and saying her husband had choked her. The witness said she looked “disheveled and the bandage on her arm was ripped off.” The witness said the victim told her that she had a disagreement with her husband over TV shows.
“The victim stated the defendant became verbally abusive about her appearance. The witness stated the victim had difficulty communicating because she was crying,” according to court documents.
The woman told police that Schaefer has been diagnosed with a mental illness and his medication was not right, according to court documents. Police did not specify what that illness is.
He was charged with domestic battery by strangulation, a third-degree felony, and tampering with a witness by hindering communication to police, also a third-degree felony. The court issued an order barring him from contacting the victim, a woman. He was released from custody on $5,150 bail after spending five days in jail. It is not clear why the district attorney declined to pursue the case.
He has a felony record, leading to the conviction for possessing body armor as a felon, but no information about that case was available Wednesday. Oregon court records did not show any previous arrests.
Few other details about Schaefer, including why he was possibly purchasing explosive materials, were available Wednesday. Federal court documents related to his case were sealed, authorities said.
5. Schaefer, Who Could Lose His Fingers or His Whole Hand, Remains in the Hospital
Jason P. Schaefer remained hospitalized Thursday morning, but was expected to be taken to the Washington County jail on a probation violation when released. Police said he could lose his fingers and possibly his hand, but did not suffer life-threatening injuries, the FBI said.
Washington County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Bob Ray said the bomb squad was brought out to the scene to make sure Schaefer’s vehicle was safe and there were no more improvised explosive devices inside.
“We’re going to be out here for quite some time tonight,” Ray said. “Right now it’s still the initial phase of this investigation. Our violent crimes detectives are on scene, and they’re going to be conducting this investigation for several more hours tonight.”
Ray said 185th Avenue was closed between Bronson and Rock Creek, “which is a major thoroughfare.” Ray asked drivers to be “patient” and find another way around.
Schaefer’s attorney in his previous case could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
Further charges are expected to be filed at a later date, including federal explosives charges. The FBI search warrant remains sealed, according to authorities.
“Partner agencies involved in today’s search included Portland Police Bureau; Metropolitan Explosive Disposal Unit (MEDU); Oregon State Police; Washington County Sheriff’s Office; Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; the Environmental Protection Agency; and Washington County Animal Control,” the FBI said.