Bomb trial: Paramedic describes struggle to save police chief

Bomb trial: Paramedic describes struggle to save police chief


by Staff and AP

Posted on September 30, 2010 at 7:56 PM

Updated Saturday, Oct 2 at 10:04 AM

SALEM, Ore. --The paramedic who helped save the life of an injured police chief after the bomb blast in Woodburn testified Friday that she had to fight to keep him alive.

Stephanie McClung said that Woodburn Police Chief Scott Russell was bleeding so heavily, she had to wait for an air bubble to pop out of his airway so she could see where to insert a device critical to keeping him breathing.


The jury has also seen bank surveillance videos that show two uniformed men bending over the bomb amid Christmas decorations in a lobby -- followed by billowing smoke.

A detective broke down in tears Thursday when he answered questions on the witness stand about the bomb that blew up a bank in the small Willamette Valley town of Woodburn, killing two of his fellow officers and critically injuring a third.

In testimony Thursday, Woodburn detective Nick Wilson tearfully described finding his captain and a state police bomb technician blown up, and his chief maimed after the bomb went off while the officers were trying to dismantle it.

Bruce Turnidge and his son, Joshua face aggravated murder charges. Opening arguments started Wednesday in the trial of the father-son duo.

Joshua Turnidge's lawyer spoke first, suggesting that Bruce was an anti-government zealot who by himself planted a bomb at Woodburn's West Coast Bank in December 2008.

Detective Nick Wilson broke down in tears as he described hearing the muffled explosion from outside, and then rushing into the smoke and darkness to find two men horribly dead and his chief with one leg nearly blown off.

Steven Krasik, said his client's father "wanted to be a hero, and in doing so he concocted year after year, day after day, phantasmagorical plans. Plans of bank robberies, helicopter escapes, shootouts."

Krasik said that on the day after the bombing, Joshua Turnidge found his father working in the farm and repeating to himself: "Nobody was supposed to get hurt."

"And it dawns on Josh that his dad had something to do with the bombing he had heard of," Krasik said. "This time one of Bruce's crazy plans happened."

The father's defense team tried to blame Joshua Turnidge instead, calling him a habitual liar. Defense attorney John Storkel said surveillance video showed Joshua Turnidge buying air cards that activating cell phones linked to the bomb.

State prosecutors vowed to prove the two men worked as a team

Prosecutors say the father and son built a bomb and placed it outside of the West Coast Bank in Woodburn. On December 12, 2008 the device exploded, killing two police officers. A memorial now marks the scene of that tragedy.

Raw: Woodburn bank bombing trial

At the Marion County Courthouse prosecutors described the pair as anti-government militiamen wannabes, experienced with explosives and compelled by the election of President Barack Obama to act out.

Prosecutor Katie Suver said Bruce Turnidge had tried to create his own militia and had told others that the Oklahoma City federal building bombing was a good thing that would keep the government in check.

Suver said  that Bruce Turnidge told an FBI agent about his objections to President Barack Obama -- whom he described with a racial epithet -- and the need for citizens to be armed.

Bruce Turnidge spoke about "his opinion that citizens needed to be armed to the same degree the government was, in other words with fully automatic weapons, in order to keep the government in check," Suver told jurors.

Prosecutors were expected to present evidence seized from the Turnidges' property that link them to the bomb.

Suver described in gory detail the carnage witnessed from the explosion after senior state trooper William Hakim tinkered with a strange green metal box discovered hours earlier at the bank.

Those in the courtroom appeared riveted by the opening remarks, listening to prosecutors describe how investigators quickly linked the bomb to the Turnidges through cell phone records and surveillance video. 

Witnesses are expected to testify that father and son frequently spoke about robbing banks, and were setting up friends and family for an influx of cash by saying they had an investor who would be backing their struggling biodiesel and cell phone tower construction businesses.

Evidence seized at the farm included a piece of plywood bearing an outline of the off-square base of the metal box housing the bomb in spray paint that matches the light green color and chemical makeup of the paint used on the container, Suver said.

The trial is expected to continue for 12-weeks.

KGW Reporters Randy Neves and Kyle Iboshi contributed to this report