Bombs Go Off in Two Crowded Coffee Shops; Suspect Commits Suicide
Nov. 04, 1996
ASTORIA, Ore. (AP) _ A man shot and killed himself minutes after bombs rocked two coffee shops filled with families just out of church, and police said they suspected the man had planted the devices.
The first bomb went off in a hallway at the Dutch Cup restaurant, about a quarter mile from the Pig N'Pancake, at 10:59 a.m. Sunday. The second bomb exploded three or four minutes later.
One person was injured by flying glass.
Linda Nichols, a manager at the Pig N'Pancake, said about 100 people _ many of them families coming from church _ were in the restaurant when the bomb went off near the cash register.
``All of the sudden there was a great big boom,'' she said. ``It sounded like a big firecracker. Debris started coming down from the ceiling.''
After the second explosion, a man in the restaurant pulled out a gun and shot himself, witnesses said. Police identified him as Michael McClain, 42, of Astoria, and said they believed he was the bomber.
McClain was arrested last month on charges of pointing a pistol at a neighbor, police said. Nichols said McClain, who lived about ten blocks from the restaurant, used to eat there, but that she had not seen him for about two years.
Police dispatcher Dick Lang said police had no idea why McClain would bomb the restaurants.
The scene, however, was eerily reminiscent of McClain's father's suicide 17 years ago. In February 1979, Ernest E. McClain pulled out a gun and began shooting during a hearing in a Portland courtroom, wounding his estranged wife and killing her lawyer. He then shot himself in the head.
On Sunday, Frank Hazelton of Astoria told The Oregonian he was sipping coffee and reading the newspaper when he heard the blast at the Pig N'Pancake. He turned toward the sound and saw a man with a gun standing in the middle of the room.
``He pulled a small-caliber handgun and pointed it at his forehead and shot himself,'' Hazelton said. ``Everybody was yelling, `down, down, down.'''
Astoria Fire Chief Lane Wintermute said the bomb at the Pig N'Pancake was made from commercial explosives used in construction and had a battery-operated detonator.
``Fortunately it all didn't detonate,'' he said, adding that both bombs were fairly small. He said authorities had not received any warning calls or threats about the bombs.
The Oregon State Police bomb squad did not find any more bombs during a search of the area late Sunday.
Earlier Sunday, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Gordon Smith had stopped in at the Pig N'Pancake as part of a 12-city campaign swing. He left for another appearance several hours before the blasts.
District Attorney Josh Marquis said he did not believe the explosions were directed at Smith, but Oregon State Police joined the candidate on his tour as a precaution.
Astoria, a town of about 10,000, is about 100 miles northwest of Portland.