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Officer Who Lost Leg Takes the Stand In Bombing Trial

Officer Who Lost Leg Takes the Stand In Bombing Trial

Woodburn Police Chief Scott Russell testifies Thursday morning about his life-threatening injuries and leg amputation resulting from the Woodburn bank bomb explosion, as trials of Bruce and Joshua Turnidge continued in Marion County Circuit Court.

Statesman Journal via YellowBrix

October 22, 2010

WOODBURN, OR – Woodburn Police chief Scott Russell testified Thursday that he has no memories directly connected to the 2008 bomb blast at a bank that killed two officers and nearly claimed Russell’s life.

Russell’s mangled right leg was amputated at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland in the wake of the Dec. 12, 2008, blast at West Coast Bank in Woodburn. Doctors saved his left leg, which sustained severe damage.

In describing his memory gap, Russell said he remembered waking up at the hospital and being greeted by his wife. He also recounted his recovery from life-threatening injuries and his return to full-time police work.

Russell now walks with a limp, using a prosthetic device.

“It’s challenging; it’s like learning to walk again,” he said.

Russell took the stand in the aggravated murder trial of Bruce Turnidge and his son, Joshua, who are accused of making a bomb that was found outside the bank in a green metal box. Oregon State Police bomb technician William Hakim and Woodburn police Capt. Tom Tennant took the box into the building and tried to dismantle it. It exploded, killing them and severely injuring Russell.

Prosecutors have described the bombing as an attempted robbery gone awry. Separate teams of attorneys for the father and the son maintain their clients’ innocence. Attorneys for Bruce Turnidge implicate his son; attorneys for Joshua Turnidge point fingers at the father.

Both defendants face a potential death penalty if convicted of aggravated murder.

In other testimony Thursday, Dr. Lyle Ham, a surgeon at OHSU, testified about the care Russell received when he arrived at the hospital in critical condition.

Russell was in shock and had lost “a good share of his blood volume,” Ham said.

The treatment team launched what Ham described as “a massive resuscitation effort.”

Ham said the decision to amputate Russell’s right leg was based on the severity of the damage.

“You can’t live with a leg like that,” he said. “This leg is essentially destroyed.”

Whether Russell’s other leg could be saved was initially in doubt, Ham said. “We were quite skeptical we would be able to salvage the left leg,” he said.

During Ham’s testimony, jurors viewed harrowing photos that showed the tissue and bone damage done to both of Russell’s legs, including a photo of his right leg after it was amputated.

Other testimony given Thursday focused on cell phone communication between the co-defendants on the day of the bombing.

Starting early in the morning on Dec. 12, 2008, and continuing until early that evening, the Turnidges exchanged a series of cell phone calls, according to investigator Mike Bethers. He was a Salem Police detective at the time of the bombing and now works for the Oregon Department of Justice.

Recounting his review of cell phone records, Bethers said the father and son began calling each other at 1:40 a.m. on the day of the bombing. The series of calls between the two men continued through the day until they returned to their respective residences in the evening.

At the time, Bruce Turnidge resided in Jefferson, south of Salem. Joshua Turnidge resided in Salem.

Bethers tracked the Turnidges’ whereabouts at the time of their various phone calls, based on the location of cell phone towers that serviced each call.

The trail indicates that the father and son made their way to the Woodburn area on the morning of the blast.

Bethers surmised that a nearly three-hour gap in their cell phone communication provided a window of opportunity for the bomb to be planted.

On the morning of the bombing, police responded to a threatening phone call of unknown origin placed to Wells Fargo Bank in Woodburn. The caller told the bank employee who answered to go outside to the garbage area where she would find a cell phone and receive further directions. When police arrived, they confiscated the cell phone, a prepaid TracFone.

Previous trial testimony established that Joshua Turnidge purchased two TracFones at a Bend store on Nov. 26, 2008, and he purchased airtime cards for the phones at a Salem store on Dec. 11, 2008.

On the day of the bombing, Bethers said, the two TracFones were activated through an Internet connection made in the lobby at a Best Western hotel on Portland Road NE in north Salem. One phone was activated at 4:22 a.m., the second was activated minutes later.

Based on Bethers’ account of cell phone calls between the Turnidges, the accused bank bombers were in the Salem area when the TracFones were activated.

Trial Update >>

  • Rob___i_max600_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    Just goes to show ya "Theres No Honor Amongst Thieves" I say "String 'em High an Watch 'em Die" O an congrats on your recovery Chief stay strong an kicking

  • Anonymous-killer-whale-232189_1__max50


    almost 4 years ago


    Typical POS train of thought. Now that they've been caught, they're turning on one another. So much for honor among thieves ........

  • Pug_max600_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    A true hero. May the Turnidge's receive the full penalty the Justice system will allow.

  • American_first_responder2_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    Chief Russell, you're a living example of Gods chosen servant willed to the preservation of life and property; it's men such as yourself that defines the unselfish act of service of, for, and to the people, aservice that willfully goes over and beyond in the service to a community; your sacrifice to the profession of Law Enforcement is that of a true "Man of Warsman"! Sir I too pray for your speedy and comforting recovery. My most distinquished sympathetic condolences to everyone that loved, respected, and cared for OSP Trooper William Hakim and Woodburn Police Capt. Thomas Tennant, that lost their lives in this incident while placing the innocent lives of a community ahead of their own; may God add the comfort to the families connected to these brave men for such a sacrifice! Chief I shall keep you in my prayers, watch your six, and I pray the Turnidges get the justice they orchestrated against you, and the victims...A ruling of "The Death Penality"!

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    almost 4 years ago

    YOU ARE my kind of hero... Go...!!!

  • Team_opca_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    Congrats Chief on your recovery this far and staying strong as the chief. All I can say is I hope they get all they deserve. I was there when the bombing happened and have sat in on some of the trial. This has been a significant impact on the law enforcement and civilian communities.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    almost 4 years ago


    I agree with rhood

  • Policelinkbadge_max160_max50_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    Congrats, Chief, on your recovery.

  • Images_max160_sq90_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    i don't like the title on this one. It makes a joke over something serious. Not cool folks.

  • In_remembrance_of_oakland_pd_max50_max50_max50_max50_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    It is time for this father son duo to be put to sleep.

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