White city man charged in DA office explosion

A White City man being prosecuted on burglary charges has been arrested on suspicion he tried to blow up the Jackson County District Attorney's Office in the pre-dawn hours of Nov. 13.

Alan Leroy McVay, 46, was arrested Wednesday outside a pizza parlor in White City without incident, said Medford police Chief Tim George.

"It was an act of domestic terrorism against the criminal justice system," George said.

George would not comment on a possible motive for the attempted bombing, which blew out some windows at the front of the DA's office in Medford but did little other damage. For now, no other suspects are being sought, he said.

"That doesn't mean this investigation has stopped," George said. "The case is far from over."

McVay was arraigned Thursday afternoon on charges of first-degree arson, first-degree burglary, unlawful possession of a destructive device, unlawful manufacture of a destructive device and first-degree criminal mischief. Jackson County Circuit Judge Lorenzo Mejia set McVay's bail at $5 million.

"I think everyone in my office breathed a sigh of relief" when McVay was arrested, Jackson County District Attorney Beth Heckert said at a press conference Thursday.

McVay's bail originally was set at $1 million, but prosecutors recommended quintupling the amount because of the seriousness of the charges and because they believe McVay has access to money.

"Due to the nature of these charges, I believe $5 million is appropriate," said Chief Deputy District Attorney Jeremy Markiewicz.

McVay's lawyer, David Orf, said he did not object and requested a preliminary hearing, which was set for Nov. 29.

The case will be presented to a grand jury next week. Federal charges could be added, prosecutors said.

The bombing was reported at 4:38 a.m. Nov. 13. An improvised explosive device attached to a propane tank detonated in front of the DA's office at 715 W. 10th St., destroying several windows. The propane tank then caught fire but did not explode. Police have said most of the building would have been leveled if it had.

Medford police, the Jackson County Sheriff's Department, the Oregon State Police Bomb Squad, FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives worked together on the investigation. Police said they identified McVay as a possible suspect within days and arrested him Wednesday afternoon in the Bobbio's Pizza parking lot in White City.

Authorities did not say what tips or evidence led them to McVay.

Federal agents assigned to the case said cooperation between federal, state and local agencies made for the quick arrest.

"We all worked well together," said Mike Plichta, FBI assistant special agent in charge. "That's why you were able to see results this quickly."

A black, two-door car police were looking for earlier in the investigation turned out to be a dead end, George said, as was any analyzed video taken from home security systems of nearby neighbors.

McVay has an extensive criminal history in Jackson County, with arrests and convictions for drug possession, burglaries, thefts and aggravated thefts, court records show.

McVay was indicted in April 2012 on felony burglary and theft charges stemming from a case in which 30 firearms and thousands of rounds of ammunition were reported stolen from a home in west Medford the previous October. The investigation led police to a local mini-storage facility, where they recovered the stolen guns and ammo.

McVay was scheduled to change his plea on those charges Thursday, but that hearing was postponed.

Outside the courtroom, Anita Robertson said through tears that McVay, her uncle, has been homeless for some time, had fallen in with a bad crowd and had been using drugs.

"Despite the circumstances, he does have a family that loves him," she said. It was a shock for her family when they "woke up this morning and saw all this stuff exploding all over Facebook."

George said information led investigators to McVay within 48 to 72 hours, but the decision to arrest him was not made until Wednesday, a week after the blast. There was no evidence of any other people involved in the blast, or that another attack was planned, George said.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or by email at rpfeil@mailtribune.com. Jeff Barnard of The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Share This Story