Port Angeles' bulldozer rampage attracts network TV newsmagazine crew to scene of crime
Videographer Meghan Moore, left, trains her camera on Clallam County Sheriff’s Deputies Bill Cortani, left, and Mike Backes as they talk with interviewer Jay Schadler during the taping of a segment on last May’s bulldozer rampage for ABC Television’s “20/20” on Tuesday in Gales Addition east of Port Angeles. -- Photo by Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
By Paul Gottlieb
Peninsula Daily News
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“Except I don't hear the sound of the bulldozer,” Duce said, standing on the edge of the parcel while the five-person TV crew interviewed Clallam County Sheriff's Deputies Mike Backes and Bill Cortani, two of three deputies who investigated the day of the attack.
The 10 minutes of property carnage done at about noon that day became front-page news around the world.
ABC's “20/20” newsmagazine will feature the attack in a segment on “extreme examples of neighborhood disputes” later this summer, producer Harry Phillips said when a film crew was in Port Angeles earlier this summer to get footage of the damage.
Phillips, part of the TV crew that interviewed the deputies, said earlier Tuesday that the segment, expected to be 15 minutes, will air during the fall season, which begins in late September.
Barry Swegle, who is in the Clallam County jail on $1 million bail, has been charged with multiple counts of assault, burglary and malicious mischief in connection with the destruction of three houses and a boat shed, and the damaging of another house, on four Gales parcels.
He has pleaded not guilty to one count of first-degree assault with a deadly weapon, four counts of first-degree burglary with a deadly weapon — “to wit, a bulldozer” — and four counts of first-degree malicious mischief.
Swegle, 51, was ordered Aug. 9 to undergo a second mental evaluation. A status hearing is at 1 p.m. today in Clallam County Superior Court.
Duce was working with property owner Dan Davis on Davis' 309 N. Baker St. property around midday May 10 when Swegle, who owned property next to Davis, boarded a bulldozer he owns and allegedly went on a 10-minute rampage that focused on Davis' property.
“Something stupid is about to happen,” Duce recalled thinking when he heard the bulldozer start up.
A day earlier, on May 9, Duce had put up the fence between Davis' and Swegle's property that Swegle leveled in his first act of destruction, Duce said.
Law enforcement officers have said Swegle trained his bulldozer mostly on Davis' property in what has been described as a property line dispute between Davis, 74, and Swegle that focused on the fence, which separates their parcels — and which allegedly blocked Swegle from maneuvering the bulldozer.
Duce said that during the rampage, Swegle drove heavy equipment toward him, getting within about 25 feet.
Duce ran to his car, got in, and for once, it started on the first turn of the ignition key.
“That's when I knew God was watching over me,” he said, a 275-pound man standing more than 6 feet tall whose voice was quavering.
“I've seen movies, but this was like being in one.”
On Tuesday, Davis watched the TV crew from about 20 yards away.
He's put in between $75,000 and $80,000 into rebuilding his property, about $35,000 of which was covered by insurance, he said.
Authorities have estimated that $300,000 of damage was done to the neighborhood.
“It's a good thing the story is being told about something like this,” Davis said.
“There's no reason for this to have happened.”
Cars slowed when they passed the group, which was flanked by patrol cars near property, much of it now repaired, that once was pictured in destructive disarray in newspapers and news broadcasts around the world.
Phillips said the crew spent between four and five hours at Gales Addition interviewing the two deputies and Davis.
“We were just finishing up with a few things, tying up a few loose ends, basically,” Phillips said.
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5060, or at email@example.com.
Last modified: August 21. 2013 8:12AM