2nd Bend man involved in 2019 courthouse bomb threat hoax sentenced to federal prison

A Bend man was sentenced to federal prison Tuesday for his role in a bomb threat hoax at the Deschutes County Courthouse last year.

Kellie Kent Cameron, 32, was sentenced to 21 months and three years’ supervised release for crafting the hoax bomb and phoning in the threat to blow up the building, said US Attorney Billy J. Williams.

As part of his sentence, Cameron was also ordered to pay $43,620.18 in restitution to the Deschutes County Circuit Court, Deschutes County District Attorney’s Office, First Interstate Bank in Bend, and Bend Fire & Rescue.

“Constructing a hoax bomb and threatening to blow up a courthouse to interfere with a judicial proceeding, is beyond reprehensible” Williams said in a statement. “Courthouses are the very symbol of justice, safety and fairness in a functioning society, and this unconscionable act not only caused fear, panic and disruption in this community, it jeopardized their sense of safety.”

In September, 24-year-old Jonathan Tyler Allen was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison for his role in the hoax.

“Hoax devices cause real-world damage. They cost money for first responders and businesses, and they create fear for those who live and work in the area,” said Renn Cannon, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Oregon. “The device that Cameron built – and the 911 calls he made – did both. If you become aware of a potential threat, we encourage you to contact the FBI or local law enforcement right away,”

According to court documents, on or about July 28 to July 29, 2019, Cameron and Allen conspired with one another to shut down the courthouse by planting a fake bomb and calling in a bomb threat.

Around the same time, Cameron constructed a realistic-looking fake bomb using batteries, wiring, a circuit board, and a fuel filter, among other materials, Williams said.

On July 29, 2019, the pair drove to the courthouse and placed the hoax device on a ramp near the building.

Around 7:18 a.m. the same day, Cameron, who was with Allen, used a cell phone to call 911.

He told the operator, “I just want to let you know that there are two bombs, one’s in the courthouse and good luck finding the other one,” Williams said.

Less than an hour later, Cameron called 911 and repeated his threat using more urgent and profanity-laden language.

The threat shut down and forced the evacuation of the Deschutes County Courthouse, the Deschutes County District Attorney’s office, a bank, and other nearby businesses while first responders rushed to the scene and investigated the threat.

When the device was discovered, a bomb squad, used disabling techniques to prevent an explosion. The device was later dismantled and found to be a hoax.

Allen later threw one of the phones used into a canal to avoid being caught, Williams said.

On August 7, 2019, Cameron and Allen were charged with conspiring to make a threat to damage property and conveying false information and hoaxes.

Cameron pleaded guilty in federal court on August 21 to using a telephone to make a threat to damage a building by means of an explosive.

Deschutes Co. DA: No mask-related charges following ‘We Will Not Comply’ rally

Deschutes County DA John Hummel announced Tuesday he won’t file any charges against a group of non-mask-wearers involved in a “We Will Not Comply” rally last month.

More than 100 people gathered in downtown Bend Nov. 21 to protest the governor’s mask mandate and two-week freeze that closed some Oregon businesses and reduced capacity at others while asking families to limit gathering sizes for Thanksgiving in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Hummel said four people called the police to report the group, saying they weren’t wearing masks, apparently in violation of the governor’s order.

Tommy Szymanski, the event organizer, told police he thought the mask mandate was unconstitutional and said it was an individual choice whether to wear the mask, Hummel said.

Police didn’t issue any citations at the event but did refer the matter to Hummel’s office.

Hummel said the event organizer was incorrect in saying the mask mandate was unconstitutional.

But enforcing the mandate when a group “gathers to exercise a constitutional right (in this case, to assemble to redress their government), it would create a conflict between the lawful mask law and the constitutional right that is being exercised.”

“As long as people who gather to exercise a constitutional right are not violent or destructive when doing so, I generally defer to protecting their constitutional rights over the enforcement of any statutory violations they may commit while exercising their rights,” he said in a statement. “My philosophy is content-neutral, meaning, it applies to people who gather for “liberal” causes and to people who gather for “conservative” causes.”

Hummel’s statement concludes by encouraging everyone to wear masks and keep your distance from others “so we can save lives, save businesses and save parent’s sanity by getting kids back to school.”

▶️ Hundreds of surgeries delayed as COVID hospitalizations spike at St. Charles


COVID-19 cases keep rising in Deschutes County and St. Charles hospital in Bend has limited beds.

“We are filling up and we are in the process of reducing surgeries in an effort to create capacity to take care of patients that are sick,” said St. Charles Chief Physician Executive, Dr. Jeff Absalon.

There are 29 patients currently hospitalized with COVID-19. 

It’s the highest number they’ve had so far, roughly twice as many as the previous week.

“We’ve seen the numbers in our area increase significantly in the last several weeks,” Absalon said. “It takes a few weeks after we see the community numbers go up for us to see the numbers go up in the hospital and that is exactly what has happened here.”

Deschutes County last week reported 459 new COVID cases – nearly 200 more than the week before.

Lisa Goodman, a spokeswoman for St. Charles said 20 of the hospital’s 30 ICU beds were full.

And across the region’s four hospital campuses, 82% of the beds were occupied as of Monday.

Hundreds of elective surgeries are being delayed, that’s 25 to 40% of all surgeries performed at the hospital.

“Elective surgeries include things such as heart surgery, including such things as cancer surgery. So there are a lot of very important surgeries included in that bucket,” Absalon said.

He adds, everyone is feeling the pressure and stress on the health system at this time.

“We just don’t know if this is the peak or not,” he said. “What we do know is, the measures that have been used previously are effective. If people wear a mask, if they keep their physical distance, if they stay home when they are ill if they wash their hands. We know we can bend the curve and that is exactly what needs to happen.”

Absalon also added, there is a risk the hospital reaches capacity, given the variety of other patients typically admitted this time of year.

Law enforcement issues joint statement on mask violation questions

The Bend Police Department and the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office issued a joint statement Thursday after receiving questions about enforcing the governor’s new mask mandate.

Gov. Kate Brown issued a statewide order to require masks in all indoor public spaces beginning July 1 to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

Along with the statement, the agencies issued a “care enough to cover” graphic urging folks to wear masks.

The statement is below:

“Central Oregon law enforcement agencies have received questions about what our roles are in enforcing the Governor’s Order to wear face coverings inside public buildings.

“It has always been our goal to help community members understand the health and safety guidelines that have been put into place across Oregon.

“Our philosophy of enforcing this and other Orders will continue to be education and to seek voluntary compliance. 

“As the Governor has stated, the expectation is that OSHA Oregon will take the lead in enforcing her face mask requirements.

“Law Enforcement will respond to and investigate all calls for service from business owners who report disputes or disturbances related to the face mask requirement, and then take the appropriate enforcement action if necessary. 

“Unless the call requires a law enforcement response, call OSHA at the toll-free number: 800-922-2689”

▶️ Gun sales skyrocketing across nation, Central Oregon


Gun sales and accompanying FBI background checks spiked last month as the nation weathered the coronavirus and riots broke out in major cities over the death of George Floyd.

Already this year, the FBI has recorded 15 million background checks, putting the country on pace to break all previous records of new gun purchases.

More than three million firearms background checks were conducted in May, the third-highest numbers since the federal firearms background system was established 22 years ago.

In the month of March, more than 3.7 million people had background investigations conducted. Many believe those gun sales are connected to current events.

“Everybody is getting scared and they want to protect themselves. A lot of first time gun buyers,” said Scott Wyke, owner of Hammer Down Firearms on northeast Butler Market Road in Bend.

Wyke says sales at his gun store have increased nearly 300% in the past two months.

He says all types of firearms are selling: handguns, long guns, shotguns.

“We did run really low at one time. We had about one hundred fifty 9mm handguns at one point. We got down to 12.”

“What are you going to do next? I think training is always the right answer,” said local outdoor expert Gary Lewis.

Lewis encourages people who purchase their first firearm to get formal training on how to safely handle and use the gun.

“I think everybody that uses a gun should commit to training at least once a year.”

An interesting subset of the current national trend of increasing gun sales are the number of applications for concealed handgun licenses: those numbers plummeted here in Deschutes County primarily due to closure of the sheriff’s office to walk-in traffic.

However, the number of people who are renewing their existing concealed handgun licenses has remained steady or crept slightly up.

No organized events, but Fish for Free Weekend still set for June 6-7

SALEM, Ore.—Fish for free in Oregon is set for this weekend.

No fishing licenses or tags (including a Combined Angling Tag or Columbia River Basin Endorsement or Two-Rod Validation) are required to fish, crab or clam in Oregon that weekend.

Although no licenses or tags are required, all other fishing regulations apply including closures, bag limits and size restrictions. See the Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations to find out more and remember to check for any in season regulation changes at https://myodfw.com/recreation-report/fishing-report/

June’s Free Fishing Weekend is usually a special one for ODFW staff and fishing groups that host events all over the state, bringing all the gear newcomers need to try fishing.

Unfortunately, due to concerns and restrictions related to COVID-19, ODFW is not hosting or sponsoring any events this year.

A number of waterbodies are being stocked in advance of Free Fishing Weekend as in past years. (Due to concerns about crowding where fish are stocked, ODFW is not currently providing its trout stocking schedule or announcing which waterbodies are stocked.) Hatchery trout are a great fish for beginners and there are plenty of tips at MyODFW.com including a video series about How to fish for trout. Beginners can also consider warmwater fishing, which is a good opportunity during summer.

Nonresidents can also fish for free June 6-7, but there are still special restrictions on the coast. Currently, clamming is closed to nonresidents coastwide. Crabbing is open to nonresidents along most of the Coast but is closed to nonresidents in the Columbia River and in ocean areas north of Cape Falcon (nonresidents may crab in bays and estuaries north of Cape Falcon e.g. Necanium River estuary).

Both residents and nonresidents should follow ongoing precautions in place due the virus:

  • Check for access before you go. Many spots have reopened to public access but some may still be closed. Remember even if fishing is open, the boat ramp or park where you want to go might be closed. ODFW does not control access to land or facilities it doesn’t manage, so check with the land manager or facility owner where you want to go about what’s open before you leave home.
  • Stay home if you are sick.
  • Stick close to home. Don’t travel far to hunt, fish, clam or crab.
  • Be prepared. Restrooms and other facilities may be more limited. Bring your own soap, water, hand sanitizer, toilet paper, food, etc.
  • Avoid crowds. Go someplace else if your destination looks crowded.
  • Practice social distancing. Keep six feet between you and anyone who doesn’t live in your immediate household, including while on a boat or at a fish cleaning station.
  • Wash your hands often. Keep up on personal hygiene and bring your own water, soap, and hand sanitizer with you.
  • Pack out what you pack in. Take any garbage with you, including disposable gloves and masks.

If you are planning to crab or clam, remember to call the ODA Shellfish safety hotline at 1-800-448-2474​ or check ODA’s Recreational Shellfish page beforehand. The Oregon Department of Agriculture regularly tests shellfish and closes areas when naturally occurring biotoxins get to levels that make crabs and clams unsafe to eat.

Big Sky Bike Park project on hold amid COVID budget constraints

After several years of planning, the expansion of Bend’s Big Sky Park is now on hold thanks to budget constraints tied to the COVID crisis.

Bend Parks and Rec’s $4 million project called for a new Hamby Road driveway and parking area, improved walking trails, and a new bike park with a cyclocross course, BMX track and singletrack trails.

Expansion of the dog park was completed last year.

Brian Hudspeth, development manager for BPRD, said the district expects a significant drop in revenue in the next fiscal year.

“It’s not that the district doesn’t want to do it; we’re really excited about it. It’s a neat project. We’ve spent a lot of time and effort to get to where we are right now,” he said. “We were really excited and then, no one could’ve predicted what happened. Due to those circumstances, it’s prudent, I think that we hold on to that money.”

The proposal wasn’t without some controversy as neighbors were concerned about noise from events expected to take place at the expanded park.

But Deschutes County Commissioners approved the plans in January 2019. Construction bids were expected in February 2020 and work was to begin later this year.

Hudspeth said he’s hopeful the project can move forward next year.


Bend, Redmond PDs issue statements highlighting diversity training

The Bend and Redmond police departments have both put out statements, educating the public about the diversity, equity and inclusion training their officers undergo as part of the force.

In a lengthy Facebook post, Bend Police outlined several efforts it has made to work with local groups to enhance the diversity training through discussions, presentations and performances.

You can read the two agency’s posts below.

What training does the Bend Police Department do for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion?

• Annually, our department members watch a training video regarding Bias Based Policing. Our most recent training on Bias Based Policing was by Calibre Press and Jim Glennon.

• We wanted to expand our Diversity Equity and Inclusion training opportunities and receive more valuable training. We have been working with two groups outside of our department to bring law enforcement focused implicit biased training. Since September of 2019 we have been working with officers from the Dallas,Texas Police Department, who specialize in community relations, especially with communities of color. We had scheduled the training for April, but it has been postponed due to COVID.

• We have partnered with Central Oregon Community College, Afro-Centric Studies Club in September of 2019 regarding The Red Door Project, Evolve. Members of the Afro-Centric Studies Club gave a presentation to our department members regarding the Evolve project and bringing it to Bend.

“Evolve project is a new performance experience that explores the relationship between law enforcement and communities of color. Combining monologues from The New Black Fest’s Hands Up: 7 Playwrights, 7 Testaments, a show written by African American men and women about their experience with racial profiling, and Cop Out: Beyond Black, White & Blue, based on interviews with police officers, Evolve seeks to stimulate conversations in a new way and help us to bridge a seemingly intractable divide.” (Copied from The Red Door Project)

Our department is committed to bringing the Evolve project to our Bend community members as well as our department members. The Evolve project was unfortunately postponed due to COVID. We are looking forward to bringing this project to Bend and our department members as soon as we can.

• Crisis Intervention Training, which is evidence-based, de-escalation training. This is a partnership between the Police Department and Deschutes County Behavioral Health. We currently have about 77% of the department CIT trained, it is our goal to have 100% of the department trained.

• One of the City Council Goals is to implement a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion training program for City Council, City Staff, and volunteers.

The police department started our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion group in October 2019. Our mission is:

We will be purposeful in our outreach efforts by working together with our diverse community members and employees to increase understanding, build trust and promote respect.

In February 2020 we met with nearly every member of our department during an in-service training and discussed our continued commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

• We are engaged with community outreach events such as Welcoming Week, National Night Out, events with Bend Parks and Recreation District, Latinx Success Initiative with Better Together, and we are building relationships with the Latino Community Association of Central Oregon and Embrace Bend. We have worked closely with Latino Community Association of Central Oregon with a variety of events.

• We have implemented a Spanish language phone line so a bilingual staff member can help answer questions that a community member may have.

• We document all traffic stops through the STOPS program (Statistical Transparency of Policing Data). This information is gathered and given to Oregon State Police for the data collection.

Does the Bend Police Department have Body Worn Cameras?

• We don’t currently have in-car cameras or body-worn cameras.
We are committed to our strategic plan regarding body cameras. We have had project management look into systems and costs (equipment/cloud storage/ORS guidelines/staffing). We feel the body cameras are important and they continue to be in our strategic plans and is regularly being evaluated.

Bias-based Policing

▶️ Rally against police brutality draws hundreds in downtown Bend


More than 1,000 people rallied in downtown Bend Tuesday afternoon protesting police brutality in a show of solidarity against the deaths of George Floyd and countless other people of color across America.

With chants of “Black Lives Matter” and “George Floyd,” the protestors initially lined Bond Street from the Bend-La Pine Schools Administration Building to Franklin Avenue as car horns honked in support.

Around 12:30, a group of mostly young people went on the move down Bond Street to Oregon Avenue and toward The Pine Tavern, setting up on the four corners of Oregon and Wall while still more gathered at Greenwood and Wall.

Later, the group made their way to the front of the Deschutes County Justice Building.

Police presence was virtually non-existent save for a few officers milling among the crowd and a patrol car driving down Bond Street shortly after the rally started.

Bend Police Chief Jim Porter was there, mostly talking with members of the group and, at times, helping direct traffic when it got congested.

“Today’s rally was exceptionally peaceful,” Porter said later. “We cited one person for careless driving for nearly striking a person in a crosswalk. Drivers were very patient with the protesters. Thank you to everyone for keeping it peaceful.”

Porter estimated as many as 1,300 people were part of the rally.

The Bend rally was in stark contrast to many of the protests-turned-riots we’ve seen across the country following Floyd’s death last week in Minneapolis.

He died after Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on him during an arrest, pressing on Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes – even after Floyd had stopped moving.

All four officers involved in the arrest were fired and Chauvin has been charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd’s death.

Some in the crowd held signs saying “I can’t breathe,” in reference to some of the last words Floyd spoke as his neck was pinned under the officer’s knee.

“Today’s rally was exceptionally peaceful.”
– Bend Police Chief Jim Porter

Meanwhile, as Central Oregon Daily News Director Matt McDonald live-streamed the event on station’s Facebook page, members of the community at home chimed in.

Many were supportive of the peaceful protests while others questioned why only black lives mattered. Some wondered why nobody was at work and others blamed the media for the racial undertones of the protests nationwide. Several people were convinced the crowd featured protestors brought in from out of town.

The event seemed to bring into focus the social and racial divide in our own community as hundreds of comments poured in.

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One protestor grabbed a Trump flag from a Jeep driving by, but someone in the car behind calmly got out to retrieve it while a handful of people yelled in his direction.

Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel stood across the street from McMenamins taking in the scene, saying he was proud to be there and proud of the community “standing up for their rights.”

“We’re fortunate enough to have good police in this community, but we can’t get complacent,” he said. “We have to say everyone in this community who interacts with law enforcement…they’re valuable, they’re special, they deserve to be treated with respect that’s inherent in them.”

While social distancing went out the window during the rally, many there were wearing masks. Organizers even handed out water, masks and had hand sanitizer available.

The rally started at noon, but started to die down around 1:30.

Central Oregon Daily’s Meghan Glova was on the scene as well and will have a full report tonight at 5 p.m.

▶️ Bend City Council to Consider Limiting Days for Downtown Events

By Anyssa Bohanan
Central Oregon Daily

Oktoberfest, Summer Fest, Bite of Bend – all hugely popular events in downtown Bend. And just a few of the events some downtown business owners say put a strain on their bottom line.

Listening to concerns from businesses, the Bend City Council is considering limiting the number of days events can take place in downtown.

The executive director of the Downtown Bend Business Association on Wednesday night presented to the City Council his group’s concerns about the economic and cultural impact downtown events have.

Downtown Bend hosts nearly a dozen events in the summer months alone.

Deedee Cochran, who has worked in the area for nearly two decades, says those events create a negative financial impact on businesses like hers in one of Bend’s busiest areas.

“The Economic Improvement District is a tax that all of the building owners pay that are inside the core district,” said Deedee Chochran, a buyer for NW Home Interiors. “The EID fee is what is paying for the beautification of downtown Bend, and that’s the flower pots, that’s the removal of snow in the winter, it’s cleaning up the sidewalks, and when we have these events there’s no money from the event organizers that go back to the downtown bend association that helps pay for the cleanup or the impact that these festivals have on our downtown.”

Ray Solley, Executive Director of the Tower Theater, considers downtown to be the “base camp” of Central Oregon, and he’s concerned about how the culture of the area is being affected.

“The city, downtown Bend, is its own event. In many ways you go to downtown Bend because you want to experience it not because you want to experience something that’s been added to it or grafted on or dropped into the middle of a street closure,” Solley said. “This is not at all about ‘Downtown should have no events!” It should have as many events as we possibly can but I think we have to think about what those events are and that they play to the strength of downtown Bend which is its unique layout, it’s unique boutiques, it’s non-franchised businesses.”

As a long-time Bend resident and creator of multiple festivals that take place in Central Oregon, Cameron Clark says the events are an integral part of bringing the community together.

“We’re an events town, and some of that happens on streets that get closed, some of that happens, some of it now happens in private venues,” said Clark, owner of C3 Events. “But it happens in all these places so that all different segments of this community get to have the arts as a part of a device to raise them up and feel connected.”

At Wednesday night’s council meeting, several downtown business owners and employees expressed concerns over the impact days-long events can have on the area.

The Downtown Bend Business Association suggested limiting the number of days festivals and races can take place in downtown, because businesses see decreased sales during events that close down multiple streets.

“If you come here in July or October, it’s busy. We’re sold out during those months. And when these festivals come, they take my customers that are walking around on these streets and they take them away because they come and they can’t park here, and it’s for three days,” Chochran said.

Some businesses say that, ultimately, they’d like to have a say in future events that are allowed in the downtown area.

“It’s not necessarily fair to have one type of business benefit from a festival. It needs to be something that creates viability for all of the businesses downtown,” Chochran said.

Said Solley, “We may have to get to a point where we say, ‘What is downtown’s strength and what does it do really well everyday and do more of those and find ways to create more of what we do best as opposed to ‘Oh let’s stop what we do, bring in another project or event and see if that will do as well as what we’ve just now stopped doing.”

Regardless of what changes may take place in the future, Clark says communication is key.

“All these events that have institutional legs that have mattered in this community that have made real community happen in this town, healthy, family oriented arts, presentations happen are because collaboration has happened instead of confrontation and conflict,” he said.

The council said they will create a subcommittee in November to consider the issue and limiting the number of days streets can be closed for future events.

Image courtesy Downtown Bend Business Association