OCEAN PARK — Ocean Park Elementary School went on lockdown on the morning of Monday, Nov. 19, after the owner of a nearby business found what appeared to be a bomb in a vehicle.
The suspected bomb did not detonate and no one was harmed, but the incident caused considerable disruption — emergency responders evacuated nearby buildings, called in a bomb-squad and shut down surrounding streets for about three hours.
Long Beach Police are investigating the possibility that the incident could be linked to a March 5 incident, in which a Long Beach officer found a similar bomb near a public restroom.
George Hill, owner of Hill’s Autobody and Towing, said the incident started when he got a call from the owner of a stolen vehicle the Pacific County Sheriff’s Office had dropped off after impounding it on Sunday night. When Hill inspected the truck on behalf of the owner, he found some bags in the back that did not belong to the owner.
“I opened up a backpack, there was a glass jar with a wire coming out of it,” Hill said. The canning jar contained a pink jelly-like substance.
“I carried it across the street put it on a stump, called it the sheriff’s department,” Hill said.
Washington State Patrol troopers and deputies from Pacific County Sheriff’s Office responded. They closed the streets in a 300-foot radius around Hill’s Autobody and Towing, advised the school to go on a precautionary lockdown, and evacuated Hill’s shop, Anita’s Coastal Cafe, DPR Builders, Lighthouse Realty and some private residences. Local authorities called in help from law enforcement agencies with expertise in dealing with potential explosives. As of press time, it was not clear yet whether the bomb was the real thing, or just a convincing fake.
In a video posted to his popular YouTube channel, Hill filmed himself as he rooted through several bags in the back of the stolen truck. Hill said he was comfortable handling the apparent bomb because his father used to work with explosives.
At about 10:30 p.m. on Nov. 18. Deputy Sean Eastham pulled over a black 1993 Chevy truck that had no front license plate as he was patrolling near SR 103 and 204th Lane. Eastham recognized the driver, Timothy Isom, 35, of Naselle, “from many previous contacts,” according to a probable cause statement. Eastham learned Isom had a suspended license, a Department of Corrections warrant, and is required to have an ignition interlock device in his vehicle. He also learned there was no registration record for the truck, which Isom said belonged to his girlfriend. Dispatchers ran the VIN number, and learned that it had been reported stolen in Aberdeen on Sept. 21.
Eastham placed Isom under arrest. During a search, Isom said he didn’t have any weapons or contraband, other than some “boner pills” that a friend had given him. Eastham found a baggie containing five small white pills in Isom’s coat pocket. He was able to confirm that they were sildenafil, the drug commonly known by its trade name, Viagra. Eastham placed the pills in evidence.
Eastham inventoried and photographed the contents of the truck before having it towed to Hill’s. The PC statement does not say whether the backpacks shown in Hill’s video were in the truck at that time. According to Hill, when police questioned him this morning, Isom said the backpacks weren’t his, and he did not know how they got there. Hill’s video showed other potentially incriminating items inside the bags, including ammunition, a small digital scale of the variety commonly used for weighing drugs, and more jars, including one that contained an unidentified blue liquid that may have been kerosene or diesel, according to Hill.
Isom’s criminal history includes two previous 2018 felony cases in Pacific County. During a March traffic stop, he was arrested for driving on a suspended license and without an ignition interlock device. While searching the vehicle, a police dog found a cigar case containing needles, a spoon and a pipe that appeared to have meth residue on them. In May, a Raymond officer recognized Isom as he rode by on a motorcycle. A second motorcycle passed, and the officer noticed it had no license plate. Knowing Isom had a felony warrant and a suspended license, the officer turned on his lights and signaled both drivers to pull over. Instead, they accelerated to about 80 miles per hour in a 35 MPH zone. Eventually, the other man wrecked his bike and Isom stopped. Both were arrested. Isom was sentenced to 30 days jail time with 324 additional days suspended and 12 months of probation. The May drug charge was dismissed when he pleaded guilty to the July offense.
State records show Isom has had 22 cases in district courts around the state, including two in 2018. His local cases included charges for drunk driving, driving with a suspended license, ignition interlock violations, traffic tickets and an assault in Wahkiakum County.
An FBI Bomb Tech arrived to help contain the suspected bomb around 12:40 p.m., according to a sheriff’s office Facebook post. Shortly before 2 p.m., officers from the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office bomb squad and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms were also on scene. The first bomb tech on the scene photographed the jar and put it inside a so-called “frag-bag.” After the other techs arrived, they x-rayed the device, then used a small charge to break open the jar from a distance of several yards. The techs appeared to package up the bomb for further study. A later sheriff’s office update said the team later discovered a second device, but did not provide any information about it.
Police subsequently re-opened the streets and notified the school.
Isom has been booked into Pacific County Jail on suspicion of possession of a stolen vehicle, unlawful possession of a legal drug, third-degree driving with a suspended license, operating a vehicle without an interlock device and a probation violation. He is not eligible for bail.
Hill and other witnesses said the suspected bomb bore a striking resemblance to one that an unknown person left in front of a Long Beach restroom on March 5. That bomb too consisted of a sealed canning jar outfitted with a wire and filled with a pink jelly-like substance. That case is still open.