At a time when budgets are tight for government agencies and citizens alike, it's a shame when senseless vandalism results in destruction of facilities intended for the common good. That was certainly the case at Saint Croix National Scenic River, where a pipe bomb was used to blow up a restroom.
It's a challenge to provide basic facilities such as restrooms at locations along rivers where periodic flooding can occur, so the park had constructed a small structure specially designed to be flood-proof at Old Railroad Landing, a remote camping, trail and boat launch area.
Unfortunately, it wasn't immune to human mischief.
On March 9th, the park received a report of vandalism at Old Railroad Landing, but investigation revealed this wasn't a typical incident--the restroom facility had been destroyed by what appeared to have been a bomb.
Ranger Rod Turner served as lead investigator, and coordinated a multi-agency investigation team that included the Chisago County Sheriff’s Office and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. According to a park spokesman, evidence painstakingly collected and documented at the scene indicated that the explosive device was a PVC pipe bomb, and, through forensic analysis, a suspect was identified.
Further investigation and subsequent search warrants and subpoenas revealed that the suspect, Travis Chinander, had purchased the material to construct the bomb at local stores. Chinander was arrested on state felony charges and is awaiting federal charges.
Work on the case is continuing, but no specific reason for the bombing has yet been identified.