Hikers Find Firearm Trap on Portland Park Trail

Bomb squad removed improvised device

Oct 21, 2014
Outside Magazine

Hikers found a trip wire rigged to an improvised firearm in Portland's Forest Park.    Mike Rohrig/Flickr

Police in Portland, Oregon, are investigating an improvised firearm trap found on a trail leading to popular Forest Park. Two hikers came across it last Thursday. Luckily, nobody was hurt.

According to the Oregonian, Mike and Jennifer Colbach were walking their dog when they came across a length of blue parachute cord stretched across the trail right before the entrance to the park. “I stepped over it,” Jennifer told Fox 12 Oregon. “I made a comment about it to my husband. He said, ‘Don’t step on it.’ And then of course my dog steps on it.”

The cord simply went slack. Jennifer Colbach saw something move in the woods to their right, but the couple went on their way.

Mike Colbach returned on Saturday to get a better look and found the trip wire attached to a beer bottle in a tree. Harmless enough, but below the bottle sat a three-quarter-inch pipe—open on one end, closed on the other, and aimed right at where a person who tripped the wire would be standing, according to KGW.com. When the cord was tripped, the bottle was supposed to swing down and hit a firing pin on the closed end of the pipe.

Colbach called a friend who works for the Metropolitan Explosives Disposal Unit. Bomb squad members investigated and found a 12-gauge shotgun shell in the pipe. The Colbachs could have been caught in a deadly trap, but the improvised gun apparently malfunctioned.

Colbach told the Oregonian that neighboring residents told him they heard unusual noises coming from the area two days before he found the device. When he walked into the park with his wife, they passed two suspicious men, who did not seem to be hikers, heading in the opposite direction. “It set off the hair on the back of my neck,” he told the Oregonian. “They stuck out like a sore thumb.”

Portland police spokesperson Sergeant Pete Simpson told the Oregonian that a park trail close to the suburbs is an unlikely place to come across an improvised firearm. “These kind of devices are more likely to be found in a rural area where someone is trying to protect something,” he said.

A bomb tech removed the device. The police are keeping it as evidence.

Although technically not in park boundaries, the police notified Portland Parks and Recreation officials, and the Portland Police Bureau’s Gun Task Force is investigating.

“I’m not going to the park for a while. I don’t want to trip the next one,” Mike Colbach told the Oregonian. “Why try to kill someone in broad daylight?”

Not Now

Open a World of Adventure

Our Dispatch email delivers the stories you can’t afford to miss.

Thank you!