EPA, FBI contact Jason Schaefer months before explosion

Jason Schaefer faces federal charges over Rock Creek explosion

An October 13, 2017 booking photo of Jason Schaefer from the Washington County Sheriff's Office and his car after the explosion on October 11, 2017. (KOIN)
An October 13, 2017 booking photo of Jason Schaefer from the Washington County Sheriff's Office and his car after the explosion on October 11, 2017. (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Five months before the FBI executed a search warrant at an apartment belonging to Jason Schaefer in the Rock Creek neighborhood, a Hazmat team and a bomb squad responded to a separate apartment complex to investigate mercury and other chemicals associated with Schaefer’s garage, according to newly obtained court recordings.

Schaefer is currently under federal indictment accused of assaulting a federal officer and using an explosive to commit a felony. He was arraigned on Friday in U.S. District Court and entered a not guilty plea. Federal prosecutors allege that Schaefer ignited a small explosive device as law enforcement officers assigned to the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force attempted to take him into custody.

Mercury found by TVF&R investigating Jason Schaefer on April 6, 2017 (Source: EPA)
Mercury found by TVF&R investigating Jason Schaefer on April 6, 2017 (Source: EPA)

Using the state’s public records laws, KOIN 6 News obtrained a copy of the May 9, 2017 plea and sentencing hearing for Schaefer who, at the time, was pleading guilty to being a felon in possession of body armor in Washington County Circuit Court.

During the hearing, Schaefer told the court that he was not in his own mind and described his mental health illness.

An April 10, 2017 booking photo of Jason Schaefer. (WCSO)
An April 10, 2017 booking photo of Jason Schaefer. (WCSO)

“I’m very sorry for the chaos that I was that day,” Schaefer said. “It was very much me that was the problem and I’m beyond sorry for my actions.”

Schaefer described being off his mental health medications when he was arrested by Beaverton Police back on April 6, 2017.

The Class-C felony charge of being a felon in possession of body armor was filed on April 11 after Beaverton Police took Schaefer into custody on April 6 at the Anderover Park Apartments, 15282 SW Teal Boulevard.

“I’m hopeful for my future,” Schaefer told the court. “I’m hopeful for my future with working on myself and being a contribution to society rather than a problem.”

Schaefer was given probation and released from custody that day.

Mercury found by TVF&R investigating Jason Schaefer on April 6, 2017 (Source: EPA)
Mercury found by TVF&R investigating Jason Schaefer on April 6, 2017 (Source: EPA)

According to the audio recordings, the apartment managers had given Schaefer an eviction notice based on numerous complaints of noise, suspicious odors and suspected drug activity. Police were dispatched on April 6, 2017 to assist Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue (TVF&R) on a scene with hazardous materials in Schaefer’s garage.

“There was mercury as well as other chemicals in the area,” Mark Richmond, the deputy district attorney who handled the plea and sentencing said in court.

Officials with the EPA said local and federal resources were tapped to respond because there were “while powder concerns and potential drug manufacturing.”

Police were attempting to control the scene to assist the EPA while containment and cleanup efforts began.

“When police spoke with the defendant about the situation, he reacted very angrily,” Richmond said. “He made threats to kill the apartment management stating that they need to die for invading his privacy.”

Crews respond to a hazmat situation involving Jason Schaefer, April 6, 2017 (TVFR)
Crews respond to a hazmat situation involving Jason Schaefer, April 6, 2017 (TVFR)

The officers were “alarmed” and decided that Schaefer “needed to be arrested and placed on a mental health hold,” according to the audio recordings.

Schaefer reportedly resisted and was detained after a brief struggle with officers.

“This is how the police learned that defendant was wearing body armor,” Richmond said in court.

Records show that Scheafer was convicted in New York State for 2nd-degree assault, and as part of his conviction record, he was prohibited from being in possession of weapons, including body armor.

When Schafer appeared in court back in May for his plea and sentencing, he was represented by criminal defense attorney Neal Weingart.

Weingart told Washington County Circuit Court Judge Andrew R. Erwin that when the plea agreement was reached with the DA’s Office, Schaefer, who was in jail, was on mental health medications.

“In fact from the time I met him, he seems like a very different person than the one you’ve just heard described,” Weingart told the court. “At the time of this incident (in April), he was not taking his mental health medication.”

Weingart told Judge Erwin that Schaefer has previous diagnoses that “are pretty major diagnoses for his mental health.”

The attorney went on to caution the judge that he had not had a chance to evaluate the diagnoses or have them confirmed prior to the sentencing.

“I have noticed that it’s very clear that he has mental health issues and been very good about (inaudible) and assisting me,” Weingart said.

An October 13, 2017 booking photo of Jason Schaefer from the Washington County Sheriff's Office.
An October 13, 2017 booking photo of Jason Schaefer from the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.

Weingart said he suspected that Schaefer came into possession of the body armor back in April because of his “delusions” and “paranoia” stemming from the eviction process.

“It really looks like Mr. Schaefer is going to be successful on probation and we all hope that is the case,” Weingart said. “He’s made it very clear to me that he’s willing to engage in mental health treatment just like he has in the jail.”

Schaefer told Judge Erwin that he considered getting back on his mental health medication prior to the April 6 incident but “felt like it was too late” and didn’t know where to turn.

“I recognized a few months prior to this incident that I was becoming unstable,” Schaefer said in court back in May.

Erwin warned Schaefer he would need to undergo a mental health evaluation as part of his plea agreement and that he would be required to take any medications as prescribed. The judge also warned Schaefer that if he got back towards the “edge” Schaefer would need to be brought into custody.

Schafer remains in the Multnomah County Detention Center. He pleaded not guilty to the federal grand jury indictment.

KOIN 6 News has reached out to Weingart regarding his client’s plea and sentencing hearing but have not heard back from him. In a prior e-mail, sent when Schaefer was arrested in October, Weingart declined to comment on the both the pending federal case and the old Washington County case.

When reached by e-mail on Sunday, an FBI spokesperson declined to comment on Schaefer’s past criminal record.

KOIN 6 News has reached out to Mark P. Ahlemeyer who is Schaefer’s current criminal defense attorney for the federal case. He has not yet responded.