OSP Trooper Held For Mental Health Assessment After Mt. Angel Bomb Scare

By Kate Mather, The Oregonian, Tuesday, January 24, 2012

School was delayed and two houses were evacuated when Mt. Angel police learned a man had abandoned a suspicious package near the gazebo at Berchtold Memorial Park, according to officials.

Thomas Patterson | Statesman Journal
School was delayed and two houses were evacuated when Mt. Angel police learned a man had abandoned a suspicious package near the gazebo at Berchtold Memorial Park, according to officials.

A 29-year-old Oregon State Police trooper was held for a mental assessment today after he allegedly told police he left an explosive package at a Mt. Angel park.

Mt. Angel officers took Joseph Conklin into custody on a police officer hold about 3:45 a.m. after he was reportedly screaming and yelling in the street near City Hall at 5 Garfield St., said Police Chief Michael Healy.

As an officer was approaching Conklin, he spotted a backpack sitting at a gazebo in Berchtold Memorial Park, located just east of City Hall, Healy said. Conklin told officers he left an explosive device in a package and investigators put the two together.

The area around the park was evacuated, along with two nearby houses. The Mt. Angel School District also delayed the start of all schools for two hours as crews responded to the scene.

An Oregon State Police bomb squad arrived about 5:45 a.m. and determined there were no explosives inside the backpack, Healy said.

Investigators later learned a second package might have been left near St. Mary’s Church, located just a few blocks away at 575 E. College St., Healy said. Officials searched the area but didn’t find anything in the area.

The church, park and City Hall reopened about 7 a.m. No injuries were reported.

Conklin was taken to Salem Hospital for a mental health assessment, Healy said. He has not been arrested or charged.

The 29-year-old was placed on paid administrative leave on Dec. 15, 2011 pending an investigation into an internal matter related to police reports, said Lt. Gregg Hastings, an OSP spokesman. He was hired in August 2008 and worked in the patrol services division in Florence.