District Attorney's Office glad to be back at work

A homemade bomb that broke several windows on the front of the Jackson County District Attorney's Office early Wednesday has left the employees a bit rattled, but overall, District Attorney Beth Heckert says, everyone is ready to get back to work.

"People have questions. People are apprehensive, but by the same token, we're not going to be intimidated by someone doing something like this," Heckert said at a press conference Thursday.

"We've faced threats in the past. They haven't had this result, so I think that kind of startles people and makes people realize that we do deal with a lot of dangerous criminals who sometimes take out their anger on us or our office."

The bomb, an improvised explosive device attached to a propane tank, went off at 4:38 a.m. Wednesday outside 715 W. 10th St. Several of the front windows shattered and fire sprayed the building, but the tank did not rupture and detonate fully. A perimeter was established around the buildings while 30 officers from federal, state and local law enforcement agencies combed the surrounding neighborhoods for debris and additional evidence. A damage estimate was not available Thursday. Investigators agree the bombing was intentional and directed at the DA's office.

On Wednesday, the DA's office operated with a bare-bones crew, working out of different county offices. County justice officials canceled grand jury sessions and delayed court until the afternoon.

Deputy District Attorney Jeremy Markiewicz described the moment he heard the news.

"It was a little shocking," Markiewicz said. "Not knowing what the damage was or anything, and to come down here and see it all roped off and see all the fire trucks yesterday morning — it was definitely an eye-opener."

Deputy District Attorney Ruby Herriott said she was awakened by a call telling her what had happened. She said the incident surprised her, but she's well aware that her profession is a potential target.

"It's something that you always kind of think about with this job," Herriott said. "It's something that's in the back of your mind, but I didn't expect it to actually happen."

Heckert said the attack could result in additional security at the DA's office, but she's not certain what approach the department will take.

"That's something we've looked at for a long time," she said, adding there are some challenges in making it happen. "We talk about it and look at it on a regular basis. ... Our buildings are what they are, and so it's difficult to somehow totally surround them with a chain-link fence and still allow the public in."

Despite the uneasiness caused by the blast, the office's attorneys are ready to get back to their desks.

"Work doesn't stop. Crime doesn't stop. We've still got things to do and work that needs to get done," Markiewicz said.

Heckert said she's received an outpouring of support from across the state, including Gov. John Kitzhaber and the Oregon Attorney General's Office.

"I think in times like this, law enforcement really pulls together," Heckert said.

— Ryan Pfeil

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