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Man Set off Bomb in Store to Hide Shoplifting; Goes to Jail

A 47-year-old man who ignited a pipe bomb in a Portland, Oregon, Fred Meyer store as a diversion so he could shoplift was sentenced Monday to five years and 10 months in federal prison. Monte Robin Kaija Jr. had pleaded guilty to two counts of possession of an unregistered destructive device. On May 26, 2016, the pipe bomb exploded just before noon near a display of travel-sized items in Aisle 13 of the Fred Meyer store at 5253 S.E. 82nd Ave. No one was injured, police said. The state police crime lab found DNA on a piece of tape used to make the bomb that matched the profile of Kaija, according to a probable cause affidavit.

Officers also recovered at the scene several fragments of white plastic PVC pipe, pieces of white plastic PVC end caps, electrical tape and a granular, powder-like substance, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Hannah Horsley. Kaija also was caught on video surveillance “in the exact location” where the bomb exploded moments before it did. When arrested Aug. 31, 2016, Portland police discovered a metal pipe bomb in the motorhome Kaija was driving. A bomb technician responded and rendered the device safe. Kaija admitted to detonating the first pipe bomb as a diversion so he could shoplift and to possessing the metal pipe bomb for protection, Horsley said. As a convicted felon, he wasn’t allowed to possess pipe bombs.

Kaija’s lawyer Samuel Kauffman told the court that his client has been a methamphetamine addict since his early adolescence. “Meth thinking has not served him well,” Kauffman said. “But he’s anxious to move forward with his life now.” Kaija stood before U.S. District Judge Michael H. Simon. “I’m extremely sorry for all of this,” he said. “You could have killed or seriously wounded someone else,” the judge told Kaija. “Do you understand that, sir?” “Yes,” Kaija responded.

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Prosecutors dismissed one count of arson. Fred Meyer didn’t seek any restitution for damage caused to shelves on one aisle of the store. The judge recommended that Kaija enter a residential drug and alcohol treatment program while in custody. He’ll be on three years of supervised release when he completes his sentence.   [Source: The Oregonian]

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