FBI Agent Shot After Booby-Trapped Wheelchair Is Triggered
Williams, OR – A law enforcement officer was wounded by a booby-trapped wheelchair armed with shotgun ammunition in a southern Oregon home.
Authorities said the home’s owner, 66-year-old Gregory Lee Rodvelt, was sued by his 90-year-old mother and her guardian for elder abuse in 2016, The Oregonian reported.
Court records showed his mother won a $2.1 million judgement against Rodvelt that forced him to forfeit his home.
Rodvelt has been in jail in Arizona since April of 2017, after he was involved in an armed standoff outside Phoenix, CBS News reported.
However, the courts released him for two weeks in August so he could return to Oregon to tie up loose ends and forfeit the property, The Oregonian reported.
Court records said the real estate attorney tasked with selling the forfeited property contacted authorities on Aug. 29 after he arrived at the property to find signs that said it had been “protected with improvised devices.”
Ten days later, on Sept. 7, an agent from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and three state bomb technicians attempted to dismantle the booby traps set up all over the property.
They began with a hot tub that was poised to crush anyone who attempted to enter the property.
"Upon closer examination, the technicians discovered that the spa was rigged in such a manner that when the gate was opened it would activate a mechanical trigger that would cause the spa to roll towards the person at the gate," the complaint read, according to The Oregonian.
The round wooden hot tub was rigged at the top of a hill just above the property’s entrance.
"[It was] much like a scene from the movie 'Indiana Jones - Raiders of the Lost Ark' in which actor Harrison Ford is forced to outrun a giant stone boulder that he inadvertently triggered by a booby trap switch," according to the complaint.
Another entrance to the property was blocked by a minivan outfitted with spring-loaded jaws of animal snares, FOX News reported.
The FBI agent and the bomb squad slipped carefully past the hot tub and other traps on the property, including spike strips, and approached the house, where they proceeded to blast open its fortified front door, according to CBS News.
Once inside the home, somebody inadvertently moved a wheelchair sitting in the hallway, and triggered a blast that struck the FBI agent.
An FBI document filed in the U.S. District Court in Medford said that the wheelchair had been booby-trapped using monofilament (fishing line), shotgun ammunition, and household junk, the Mail Tribune reported.
“I’m hit,” the FBI agent told the bomb squad technicians.
Although he could stand, court documents said he was bleeding “significant” amounts from the leg, the Mail Tribune reported.
At that point, the bomb techs assisted the agent in retreating from the property, and performed first aid.
Then they rushed him to Asante Three Rivers Hospital in Grants Pass, where an X-ray located the .410-gauge shotgun pellet below the knee in the agent's left leg, according to the Mail Tribune.
Court records said that every window on the house had reinforced bars on the inside.
Authorities also found another booby trap in the detached garage that had not been set off.
It used a rat trap and a shotgun shell, designed to be triggered by lifting the garage door, the Mail Tribune reported
“The bar of the trap would fall on the shot shell primer with the apparent intended results being the discharge of the shotshell,” the complaint said.
The FBI took Rodvelt into custody at 9:20 p.m. on Sept. 7 near a grocery store in Surprise, Arizona, the Mail Tribune reported.
During an interview that followed about the Oregon property, Rodvelt advised the agents “I would not race right in.”
A team of former military explosive experts cleared the property in the weeks that followed the bomb squad’s initial attempt, and didn’t discover any new devices, the Mail Tribune reported.
The real estate attorney handling the property told the Mail Tribune that they would never know for sure whether they got everything.