The man who nearly blew off his hand with a homemade explosive and prompted the evacuation of a Puyallup hospital said he was only trying to get his ex-girlfriend to contact him.
Pierce County prosecutors Wednesday charged Chase Beattie, 18, with unlawful possession of an explosive device. He is to be arraigned March 8.
The incident took place Jan. 8 when Puyallup police were called to Good Samaritan Hospital for a man with a severely injured left hand.
Officers found a pickup truck — reeking of gunpowder and filled with beer bottles — parked at the main entrance of the hospital. Beattie was lying on the ground 10 feet away.
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A 22-year-old friend who was with Beattie refused to talk about what happened and was treated for a possible concussion. Beattie was taken to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.
Police saw a suspicious device in the truck, which had explosion marks on the driver’s side and was missing a mirror.
Hospital officials closed the main entrance, evacuated six patient rooms and moved 10 patients and delayed surgeries for several hours while a bomb squad determined whether the truck and explosive device posed further threat.
A sheriff’s hazardous device squad, the FBI and members of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives checked the pickup before it was towed away.
“By looking at the blue Ford pickup truck, officers believed it appeared that an explosion happened inside of the truck or possibly while the driver was trying to throw a device out of the open window,” according to charging papers.
Police determined the explosion happened just before 4 a.m. in the 700 block of 13th Street Southwest, near where Beattie’s ex-girlfriend lived.
She told police she broke up with Beattie six days before the explosion and hadn’t heard from him since.
Beattie allegedly admitted he planned to detonate the explosive near his ex-girlfriend’s house.
“The defendant said he had no intention of hurting his ex-girlfriend or harming her property,” records show. “He stated he intended to detonate the device near her home, and since she is aware that he ‘makes bombs,’ she would know he was responsible and this would prompt her to send him a text message.”
Beattie apparently has a history of setting off explosives after his relationships end.
He was questioned in November 2014 after a pipe bomb was lit in a former girlfriend’s driveway, damaging her parents’ car. He was quizzed again in November 2016 when an ex-girlfriend’s car was damaged by an explosive device.
Prosecutors said they might file additional charges against Beattie. His friend is not expected to face charges.
Stacia Glenn: 253-597-8653