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Bomb squad disarms tripwire device found on trail near Forest Park – UDPATED

Posted by on October 20th, 2014 at 11:15 am

Newton Rd in Forest Park

(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

The Portland Police called in the bomb squad Saturday night to disarm an explosive device connected to a tripwire strung across a trail that leads into Forest Park.

According to a statement released this morning by the PPB, the tripwire was strung across Firelane 3, a wooded and overgrown old fire access road located east of NW Thompson Rd and accessible via Skyline Road from Thunder Crest Drive. Firelane 3 is open to bicycling and walking.

Here’s more from the PPB:

The device was an improvised firearm with a pipe loaded with a shotgun shell. The device was connected to a tripwire across the trail. The tripwire was slack and it appeared that it had been tripped and the device was inoperable.

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The PPB have taken in the device as evidence and are conducting interviews with local residents. The police say there have been no other reports of similar devices and “it is unclear why someone would place this device on what is believed to be a well-used trail by hikers, bikers and equestrians.”

The PPB is urging anyone with information about this incident or device is asked to contact the bureau’s Gun Task Force at (503) 823-4106 or

UPDATE, 2:30 pm:

We learned via The Oregonian that the tripwire was found by Mike Colbach, a Portland attorney whose law office happens to be a large supporter of bike racing via the Cycling Team. I just talked to Mike on the phone to learn a bit more about the situation.

Colbach said he and his wife discovered the paracord across the trail on Thursday afternoon around 3:30 pm.

“This has nothing to do with bikes as far as I know,” he said. “This whole thing is just some weird stuff.”

Colbach said, judging by the way the cord was set up, a bicycle could have actually rolled downhill over it and nothing would have happened. The trail where it was found is not a popular access point to Forest Park. It’s not even marked from the main road (Skyline) and it’s at the back of a semi-private subdivision. Colbach knew something was amiss when, during a recent hike with his wife, he says two men he described as being “sketchy, slimy, and sleazy” were hanging out near the trail talking on a cell phone. “They weren’t hikers, they didn’t fit in. They looked to be up to no good.”

Colbach said his wife got a better look at them and she’s now working with detectives to come up with a sketch of the suspects. It has been an unsettling experience for him and he hopes Portland Police and Parks take it seriously. He’d like to see a sweep of the entire park to make sure there are more similar booby traps scattered around.

“Forest Park is sacred,” he said, “And we want to keep it that way.”

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  • Allan October 20, 2014 at 11:20 am

    w t f

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    • mike October 22, 2014 at 9:15 am

      That’s what I said.

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  • scott October 20, 2014 at 11:21 am

    Whoa. That is the least awesome thing I have ever read.

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    • scott October 20, 2014 at 11:22 am

      Change “ever” to “this half hour”.

      I momentarily forgot what world I live in.

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  • lyle w. October 20, 2014 at 11:36 am

    There goes my theory… I guess Oregonlive commenters DO get outside from time to time.

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    • joebobpdx October 20, 2014 at 11:53 am

      Haha! Which one you got in mind?

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      • Opus the Poet October 21, 2014 at 7:07 pm

        Take your pick, there are thousands that fit the profile…

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  • dan October 20, 2014 at 11:42 am

    Wow, that’s horrible.

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  • GlowBoy October 20, 2014 at 12:06 pm

    Jeebus. FL3 is one of my favorite road in the park.

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  • F.W. de Klerk October 20, 2014 at 12:11 pm

    No doubt this deed was done by one of those anti-mountain bike people who were so vocal when the illegal trails were being blazed up there.

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    • rainbike October 20, 2014 at 12:53 pm

      Could also be raccoons. I have just as much evidence to support my theory as you have to support yours.

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      • Paul Atkinson October 20, 2014 at 2:15 pm

        Yeah, I saw Guardians of the Galaxy too. Pretty awesome. You should probably be careful hopping any weird-looking log that happens to be lying nearby as well.

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      • Dan October 21, 2014 at 7:58 am

        I’d say it’s more likely to have been a person than a raccoon.

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        • Opus the Poet October 21, 2014 at 7:09 pm

          Well, since it didn’t go off it still could be either a really smart raccoon or a typical OLive commenter…/s

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    • Chris I October 20, 2014 at 1:07 pm

      Just as likely to be tripped by a hiker or trail runner in this spot. Now, if someone had done this on an illegal mountain bike trail, you could jump to that conclusion.

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      • scott October 20, 2014 at 2:10 pm

        …or a horse.

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    • scott October 20, 2014 at 2:10 pm

      There is so much more on that trail. Don’t bike internalize this one.

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      • F.W. de Klerk October 21, 2014 at 7:17 am

        Well this is BikePortland.

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  • UncleMuscles October 20, 2014 at 12:18 pm

    I’ve never seen Osama Bin Laden and Marcy Houle in the same room. Just sayin….

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  • Peter R. October 20, 2014 at 12:19 pm

    Scary. That is my most favorite access point too.

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  • Dabby October 20, 2014 at 12:31 pm

    A cord/string was found strung between two trees acrossas Mt. Hood trail last week as well.

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  • Boris October 20, 2014 at 12:55 pm

    What was this person thinking?! Think about how many elk calves could have been killed by this thing!

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  • Jon October 20, 2014 at 12:56 pm

    Dr. Jackson Dempsey, a Jackson County Psychiatrist did not like having to share the trail with bikes when he was walking his dog on Mt. Ashland in southern Oregon. He was caught putting string across trails and adding other booby traps. He was convicted and spent time in jail in 2012.

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  • Brian October 20, 2014 at 1:12 pm

    Given that there has been ZERO movement on the mountain bike front in Forest Park, I’m not sure what to think. FL 3 is a popular bike entrance into the park (with high speeds), given the lack of true trail development. I would guess that it sees a higher bike %age entering than hiking, so it could be mtb-specific. It’s too bad because we have yet to see this type of thing here.
    I recently read that there were booby traps set on the Siouxson Creek trail, too.

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  • Psyfalcon October 20, 2014 at 1:25 pm

    Could also be the Anti-Dog faction, but being heavily biked area…

    A shotgun shell is a pretty big step up from the “normal” trail booby traps. Olive has some details that make it seems more like a survivalist type thing, but I can’t see how that makes any sense either.

    Sense might however be lacking with the perpetrators.

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    • q`Tzal October 20, 2014 at 8:02 pm

      Seems like chocolate tainted dog treats would have been much more effective and less likely to arouse suspicion. Explosives are meant to target Everything.

      Anyone sufficiently obsessed with the behavior of a single group to decide to take blatantly illegal action could have easily tailored their trap to ONLY affect the group desired.

      This was not targeted at a single group; this was a juvenile lashing out at everybody by unskilled amateurs.

      In the south you wouldn’t have found a trip wire but there would be an entry in the police blotter about some burn victims who were playing with homemade fireworks. Coroner to ID the bodies when he is back in town.

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      • davemess October 21, 2014 at 7:16 am

        It’s not like we don’t have firework burns in Portland.
        There are stupid people everywhere.

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        • q`Tzal October 21, 2014 at 8:04 am

          Yes but you’ll get a lot more bottle rocket injuries where they are legal than illegal.

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  • rainbike October 20, 2014 at 1:36 pm

    More of the story posted recently on the O’s website.

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  • Andy October 20, 2014 at 3:05 pm

    The Sierra club had a pamphlet 20 years ago showing how to make these and plant them to injure off road motorcyclists

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    • Rick October 20, 2014 at 5:52 pm

      Not the Sierra Club’s style. Sounds like anti-environmental propaganda from somebody who can’t tell the difference between the Sierra Club and The Monkeywrench Gang.

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    • adam October 20, 2014 at 5:57 pm

      That is incredibly difficult to believe.

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      • Psyfalcon October 20, 2014 at 9:46 pm

        I managed to find an online reference to something like it, but not the pdf, and not from the Sierra Club. More of an Elf type organization.

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  • pdx2wheeler October 20, 2014 at 3:10 pm

    Would be really interesting to obtain the cell phone records made/received from that area during the time Colbach noticed those nefarious characters on the trail. It may have no connection, but considering the seriousness of this crime a little investigation is definitely warranted.

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  • MikeInAz October 20, 2014 at 3:35 pm

    Here in AZ, cactus and plant thorns can cause a lot of damage. I came around a corner once and there was a pile of cholla clusters spread out all over the trail. For the uninitiated, those are “jumping cactus”. If you so much as look at these, they get stuck to your skin and are very painful to get out.

    I stopped and checked my bike and sure enough I had a lot in my tires. I looked around and there were no cholla plants near there. They were placed there by someone.

    I kicked them off the trail, then spent 30 minutes pulling needles out of my shoes and my leg and my tires. People are crazy, they get pissed off because someone whizzed by them on a bike or spooked their horse or something. They want revenge. Crazy!

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  • Rebecca October 20, 2014 at 3:56 pm

    Oh, cool. That’s the firelane I’ve been practicing on for the last month.

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  • Matt F October 20, 2014 at 4:13 pm

    damn sad

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  • q`Tzal October 20, 2014 at 4:46 pm

    I’m honestly thinking kids/teens. Just the description shows a lack of sophistication in construction but most importantly a complete lack of clue as to what the potential target would be. Literally anything could have set that off: people, dogs, horses, bikes, wild animals.
    The lack of foresight involved in not planning how to affect a specific target is a hallmark of childhood planning skills. I recognize this pattern from a portion of my nefarious youth when I was constantly scaring people with a very realistic rubber bat. Contingencies, consequences and collateral damage are things you don’t think if as a kid.

    There are so many easy ways to have inflicted harm on only one segment of park users that the random indiscriminate nature of this trap screams “child.

    Also: go back and check for cameras. The person(s) who deployed this device wanted video evidence to gloat. They either left a camera or were bedded down in a nearby blind to watch unobserved. There is more evidence there.

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  • redhippie October 20, 2014 at 5:08 pm

    There is a lot going on in forest park.

    People permanently living there, misc. plant cultivation, body dumping, cougars, secret trail building, missing children etc. Anytime you have such an extensive tract of wildlands so close to high urban area, it will be a magnet for the weird and bizarre.

    The best was the group I ran across early one morning near Old Sprinville road. Judging by the fire ring, dark stains on the ground, chicken feathers and general creepiness there was more than camping going on.

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    • JV October 20, 2014 at 5:23 pm

      My wife and I went hiking “off trail” a bit this summer in Forest Park, generally following game trails and hiking up the streams. After a bit we definitely found some evidence of improvised settlement and some shelters hidden up in the woods. We diverted around them. To the degree that paranoia and mental instability might be real issue for some of the people living up there in Forest Park, this trap is pretty far out there. Scary indeed!

      In principle I have no problem with people choosing to live in the woods of Portland if they can truly do it respectfully and with minimal impact. But something tells me most are not the Leave No Trace type.

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      • q`Tzal October 20, 2014 at 7:52 pm

        I still prefer the “urban camping” technique I saw on where you could get away with camping anywhere by having a boxy looking tent labled “sewer department”.

        In the woods everything can look suspicious to urbanites; in the city people will walk over a dead body and claim never to have been aware of the murder 15′ from them.

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  • Rob Chapman October 20, 2014 at 9:02 pm

    I wonder if this incident is what inspired Mike Vandeman to revive the zombie post about Forest Park?

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  • Rob Chapman October 20, 2014 at 9:19 pm

    Eric April 10, 2013 at 2:35 pm
    Looks like is still available. You could build out that page to just do that every time you click on it. Maybe have a PayPal link to that would actually go to IMBA.

    Mike Vandeman October 19, 2014 at 6:09 pm
    Nobody has had the guts to answer this question: Why are mountain bikers “excluded”, given that they are all capable of using the trails by means of WALKING? Or is this just another mountain biker LIE???

    I have no idea how to do screenshots! Check out that great timing though.

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    • Psyfalcon October 20, 2014 at 9:48 pm

      This is a big step up, even for him.

      Impeccable timing though.

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  • Paul Johnson October 20, 2014 at 9:43 pm

    Put a million people who are disproportionately affected by SAD with nothing to do except drugs and alcohol and mix generously with some of the most right-wing nutjob radicals on the continent, and honestly, the only thing about this that surprises me is that it doesn’t happen North Ireland often.

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    • F.W. de Klerk October 21, 2014 at 7:20 am

      Wow you had to go political on this one.

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      • Paul Johnson October 21, 2014 at 12:12 pm

        Huh. Didn’t know objective observation was political.

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        • rainbike October 21, 2014 at 2:25 pm

          “right-wing nutjob radicals” seems subjective, not objective.

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    • davemess October 21, 2014 at 7:20 am

      SAD? We’re like 2 days into winter?!?!?!?!

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      • El Biciclero October 22, 2014 at 11:34 am

        Uh, we’re like, 30 days into Fall. It’s still DST.

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  • Andy October 21, 2014 at 3:50 am

    Seems like tolerance is out of fashion. Someone bring back live and let live please.

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  • chris October 21, 2014 at 6:15 am

    Ah, The good ‘ol Anarchist Cookbook strikes again.

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  • puddlecycle October 21, 2014 at 10:44 am

    More people outside = outside is safer.

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    • Zimmerman October 21, 2014 at 11:30 am

      But Bro, we have to kill to prevent erosion.

      (obvious sarcasm)

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  • Trail Rat October 21, 2014 at 11:33 am

    Not sure why people are so “anti mountain bike” in forest park. It seems to more so here than other places I have lived.

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    • davemess October 21, 2014 at 12:34 pm

      yes and yes.

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  • Ian October 22, 2014 at 10:49 am

    A bit off topic but does anyone know if there is a movement to build mountain bike trails in Forest Park? Seems like it would be great for the environment to have people mountain bike there rather than drive clear out to Sandy Ridge. Not to mention that populating the area with more trails could very well cut down on illegal camping.

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    • Trail Rat October 22, 2014 at 3:04 pm

      Sadly it is not off topic, and the reason this article was posted here. Firelane 3 is one of the few places in forest park that can be legally ridden. The trip wire that was found at the top of firelane 3 is reminiscent of the anti montain bike sentiment in this area. Two people were recently arrested for pulling guns and tazers on mountain bikers at Sandy Ridge. Other tactics to harm mountain bikers that I have encountered are fish hooks and razorblades hanging from trees, holes dug or rock piles on blind corners, and other trip wires strung across trails. Some people who dislike mountain bikers do not only not want to share trails, but it seems they wish to harm or kill us. I and a lot of people agree Forest Park would be an excellent shared trail system. Other cities that I have lived in an ridden in are much more progressive for mountain biking.

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  • GlowBoy October 22, 2014 at 12:28 pm

    ” The trail where it was found is not a popular access point to Forest Park. It’s not even marked from the main road (Skyline) and it’s at the back of a semi-private subdivision.”

    Well, it may not be a popular access point for hikers, because they have no place to park their cars. But it IS a very popular access point for cyclists. Not only for riders passing through the park from somewhere else, as I like to do occasionally on the commute home from Beaverton, but also for riders who’ve climbed up Saltzman or Holman and want to close the loop with a fun ride back down.

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