SALEM, Ore. -- Jurors saw photos of the interior of the bombed bank, as an agent with the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Bureau took the stand Monday in the trial of a father and son accused of setting a deadly bomb in a Woodburn bank in December of 2008.
“The bomb blast actually heaved the walls,” said ATF agent Brennan Phillips. “You could actually see the effects on the dry wall inside the room.”
That blast not only tore up the inside of the bank, but it killed Senior Trooper William Hakim, a bomb technician with the State Police, and Woodburn Police Capt. Thomas Tennant as they were trying to pry the lid from a suspicious green metal box. It also maimed Woodburn Police Chief Scott Russell.
The compelling testimony came in Marion County Circuit Court during the trial of Bruce Turnidge and his son Joshua Turnidge. They could face the death penalty if convicted of aggravated murder in the Dec. 12, 2008, bombing of the West Coast Bank branch in Woodburn.
Photos were also shown in the courtroom Monday for jurors to study. These included desks shattered by the bomb blast and other photos too graphic to include in this story.
Photos: Woodburn bank bombing trial
Prosecutors have said the Turnidges decided to plant the bomb because they feared newly elected President Barack Obama would curb their gun rights.
A paramedic testified last week that she had to paralyze Russell with a difficult procedure so she could insert a tube into his trachea leading to his lungs. Normally the procedure is done in a hospital, but she had to do it in an ambulance bouncing along Interstate 5 in a snowstorm, with blood preventing her from seeing where to put the tube.
"For whatever reason, luck I guess, a little air bubble came out of his trachea," she said. "Knowing air comes out of the lungs and not the esophagus, I aimed for the bubble. I felt it go through. We thought we were in."
Detective Rick Puente testified that when the ambulance arrived at the hospital in Portland, about 15 security guards were lined up to greet them, their hands over their hearts.
"It was very humbling," Puente said, his voice shaking with emotion. "It's hard to explain, but it did bring some peace to me. Reassurance to me." Puente testified he had found the metal box in bushes at the back of the bank and moved it 180 degrees to see if it was a utility box or something related to the sprinklers. When he did, a wire poked out, giving him concern, and he reported it to his sergeant.
Sgt. John Mikkola testified that Hakim and everyone else were convinced it was a hoax. The box was taken inside the bank and Hakim decided to dismantle it to make it completely safe. Mikkola said he was outside with Detective Nick Wilson when the bomb went off, and he radioed the dispatch center for help.
Later, prosecutors played a tape of the request by Mikkola, who wiped away tears as he listened. Inside the bank, Mikkola said, he found the dismembered bodies of Hakim and Tennant. When Russell was found beneath furniture, authorities initially suspected he was dead, too.
"I thought, well, I'll just try CPR," Mikkola testified, his voice breaking with emotion. "I tilted his neck. He just all-of-a-sudden, he woke up. He opened his eyes. He was breathing. It was just amazing."