Man arrested after hanging backpacks from Lewis & Clark Bridge
UPDATE: 3:45 p.m.
Oregon State Police apprehended and arrested a man who hung two backpacks from Lewis & Clark Bridge, sparking an hours-long bomb squad investigation.
Samual Abram Owen, 61, of Rainier, was arrested Monday afternoon, March 19, for disorderly conduct and a "user quantity" of methamphetamine, after hanging two backpacks from the Lewis & Clark Bridge with rope.
The backpacks were later intercepted by law enforcement agencies and found to have clothing and several personal items, but not before a large investigation into the bags was conducted by a bomb squad team.
A roving robot was deployed by a bomb squad Monday afternoon to inspect the suspicious bags retrieved from the Lewis and Clark Bridge in Rainier.
"The OSP Bomb Unit deployed a remote robot, which was used to initially x-ray the bags," a news release from OSP states. "The contents of that examination were inconclusive. The Bomb Unit next utilized a high pressure water cannon mounted on the robot to safely reveal the contents of the bags. The bags were determined to contain non-hazardous items like clothing and miscellaneous personal property."
Oregon State Police shut down the Lewis and Clark Bridge late Monday morning after a call came in that a pedestrian tied multiple backpacks to the bridge and dropped them over the side.
OSP stated the incident was "the result of a dispute between Owen and another individual" and noted no threat to public safety.
Washington State Patrol officials said three backpacks were hanging 15 feet down from the bridge on the Oregon side. A bomb squad arrived on scene to inspect the contents.
A roving robot was deployed to inspect the bags prior to a law enforcement team opening them.
Around 1 p.m. Monday afternoon, law enforcement officers poured liquid from what appeared to be orange juice jugs retrieved from the bags into a beaker for testing.
The bridge remained shut down for hours. By 2:45 p.m., the bridge and marine traffic on the river underneath the bridge were reopened and OSP reported its bomb technicians had cleared the scene.
During the investigation, traffic wasn't the only thing at a standstill. Millworkers from a nearby lumber mill waited around near Dike Road and Rockcrest Street, where law enforcement agencies were staged. One said he and his coworkers were headed to lunch when the investigation ensued and were blocked off from returning to work.
The Columbia County Sheriff's Office, Rainier Police Department, and Scappoose Fire District provided assistance at the scene.
Officials say alternate routes of travel are the Astoria-Megler Bridge or the I-5 Bridge.
Reporting from KOIN 6 News contributed to this story.