December 14, 2008 / 12:29 AM / 11 years ago

Bomb blast kills two policemen at Oregon bank

PORTLAND, Oregon (Reuters) - Two police officers were killed after a bomb they found outside an Oregon bank exploded, authorities said on Saturday.

Oregon State Police senior trooper William Hakim, an explosives expert, and local police Capt. Tom Tennant, both 51, were killed on Friday as they carried the device into the evacuated branch of West Coast Bank in Woodburn, 30 miles south of Portland.

Wounded in the blast were Woodburn police chief Scott Russell, 46, who was in critical condition, and a bank employee, whose name and condition were not released.

“If it takes a $35,000 reward, or if that reward grows, to break the case open, then it’s money well spent,” Oregon State Police Lt. Gregg Hastings told a news conference on Saturday.

Officers had responded to a report of a bomb threat at a Wells Fargo bank branch in Woodburn. A device found there was harmless, but it led investigators to the nearby West Coast Bank branch, said Salem police Lt. Dave Okada.

Okada said no ties had been established between the two devices. He declined to describe the devices and would not comment on what led investigators to the second bank site. A task force of local, state and federal officials is investigating.

CBS News, quoting data from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, reported earlier this week that there were at least 2,700 reported explosive incidents in the United States last year, and that juveniles accounted for the majority of them. West Coast Bank is a unit of West Coast Bancorp.

Editing by Dean Goodman and Peter Cooney

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