Neah Bay man to be arraigned after standoff ends in arrest, discovery of explosive devices

Marine Drive closed for some seven hours

A building stands boarded up Monday along West Marine Drive following a seven-hour standoff Sunday in Port Angeles. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

A building stands boarded up Monday along West Marine Drive following a seven-hour standoff Sunday in Port Angeles. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

PORT ANGELES — A Neah Bay man will be arraigned Friday on charges stemming from a seven-hour standoff with police on Sunday during which he allegedly threatened to blow up a building on Marine Drive.

Stephen C. Pearce, 31, remained in the Clallam County jail on Monday with $50,000 bail after his first appearance in Clallam County Superior Court on Monday afternoon on charges of possession of incendiary devices, second-degree arson and second-degree burglary.

Harry Gasnick, director of Clallam Public Defender, was appointed Pearce’s attorney.

In setting bail, Superior Court Judge Lauren Erickson agreed with Coleen St. Clair, deputy prosecuting attorney, that given the charges, Pearce was likely to be a danger to the community.

Six to seven explosive devices were found in the building from 930 to 938 West Marine Drive, which housed three businesses, after his arrest, according to the probable cause statement written by Officer Elizabeth Hollis of the Port Angeles Police Department.

Marine Drive was closed and an area that included the marina was evacuated for about seven hours on Sunday, beginning at about 7 a.m., said Chief Brian Smith in a press release.

At about 6:40 a.m. Sunday, Hollis and fellow PAPD officer Zac Moore investigated a report of a burglary on Marine Drive, according to the release.

While en route, they were told that a person had been seen smashing windows, throwing fire extinguishers out windows and causing other property destruction.

The person, holed up inside the building, was told he was under arrest and ordered to leave the building, Smith said.

He spoke with Hollis by telephone, saying he had bombs rigged inside the building and was prepared to detonate them.

“He also expressed an awareness that there was a gas tank under the building and believed detonation would destroy the building and marina, plus kill everyone in the area,” Smith said in the press release.

He also told officers he was armed with a .45 caliber handgun and demanded drugs — methamphetamine and fentanyl — in exchange for the “bomb switch,” according to Hollis.

After that, he hung up on her and she was unable to re-establish communication with him, she said in her report.

While officers were attempting to negotiate with him, he threw a flaming object through a window in a garage door at 930 W. Marine Drive, Hollis said.

“This behavior increased the danger to persons present and the potential for an explosion,” Smith said in the release.

Said Hollis in her statement: “Several attempts of negotiating with Pearce for a peaceful resolution failed. The garage door was subsequently breached by Washington State Patrol and Pearce was taken into custody.”

He was taken by ambulance to Olympic Medical Center in Port Angeles for a self-inflicted wound, Smith said, adding that he was examined by medical staff and cleared for incarceration.

Initial estimate of damage to the three businesses in the building was $5,000, Smith said.

Agencies from across the North Olympic Peninsula were involved in the standoff.

The area crisis negotiation team was called out. State Patrol SWAT and bomb squad were requested. Officers from numerous agencies — the Lower Elwha Police, Clallam and Jefferson sheriff’s offices and Sequim Police Department assisted, Smith said.

In addition, Port Angeles Fire Department was staged nearby and the Port of Port Angeles also assisted.

PAPD Detective Sgt. Kori Malone was the incident commander during the standoff, Smith said.

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Executive Editor Leah Leach can be reached at 360-417-3530 or at [email protected].

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A building stands boarded up Monday along West Marine Drive following a seven-hour standoff Sunday in Port Angeles. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)
Neah Bay man to be arraigned after standoff ends in arrest, discovery of explosive devices

Marine Drive closed for some seven hours