In a statement released on Friday by local police officials, the Federal Bureau of Investigation is offering a reward for information regarding one bombing and one attempted bombing in Coos Bay, Oregon, by a person or persons unknown and unidentified by investigators.
The FBI will pay up to $10,000 for information leading to the identification, arrest, and conviction of the person or persons responsible for two improvised explosive devices (IEDs) left at a Coos Bay outdoor recreation area and at the Prayer Chapel in Coos Bay, Oregon.
The FBI, the Coos Bay Police Department (CBPD), and the Oregon State Police (OSP) are conducting a joint investigation to determine who created and placed the IEDs at these locations. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) agents with expertise in explosives and incendiary devices are also assisting in the investigation.
“One of the first things detectives look for in these cases is a bomber’s possible ‘signature.’ In other words what characteristics do these IEDs have that may match those contained in prior bomb incidents or terrorist attacks,” said Det. Benjamin Cardona, formerly of the NYPD’s arson and explosion unit.
During their announcement of the cash reward, FBI officials did not rule out the possibility of a terrorist group’s involvement in one or both explosions. Besides the reward announcement, the FBI released a composite drawing of a person of interest.
The unknown subject (unsub) was observed by witnesses in the vicinity of Prayer Chapel before the IED was discovered.
On the evening of August 22, an IED detonated at the base of the Mingus Park Vietnam War Memorial. While the memorial was damaged from the blast, there were no casualties attributed to the bombing.
On September 3, an unsub placed an IED inside the Prayer Chapel at Second Street and Commercial Avenue in Coos Bay.
The Coos Bay Fire Department and Oregon State Police Hazardous Device Technicians were able to neutralize that IED before it exploded. At this time, it is not known if the same person or group is responsible for both IEDs.
According to the FBI, their participation in this case is a result of the federal Church Arson Prevention Act (CAPA), which makes it a federal crime to intentionally deface, damage, or destroy any religious property because of the religious character of that property (or to attempt to do so). The maximum penalty for violation of the CAPA is 20 years in federal prison.
The Coos Bay Police Department released a sketch of a person believed to have been in the vicinity of the Prayer Chapel shortly before the IED was found there.
Witnesses described the unsub as a white male, approximately 55-years-old, 5’6”-5’7” tall, and about 150 pounds with a shaved head.
As with the unsub, the motive for the IEDs remains unknown.