Former Navy SEAL Louis Garrick Fernbaugh has denied throwing a pipe bomb at protesters in Portland, Oregon, earlier this month.
After Portland police described Fernbaugh as a "person of interest" in connection with the Aug. 8 incident, Fernbaugh emailed Task & Purpose several times claiming that he had spoken with a Portland police detective, but since there is no evidence implicating him in any crime, he has decided to refrain from making further statements to police on the advice of his attorney.
When Task & Purpose asked Fernbaugh outright if he threw an explosive device at protesters, he replied: “No, I did not.”
But a Portland Police Bureau spokesman told Task & Purpose the matter is not closed.
"Investigators have contacted Mr. Fernbaugh and he is represented by an attorney," Officer Derek Carmon told Task & Purpose on Tuesday. "He has not been cleared at this time and until a witness comes forward connecting him directly to the crime he will not be arrested."
Carmon earlier described Fernbaugh as a “person of interest” after a video was posted on social media showing Fernbaugh leaving the scene after at least one explosive device was reportedly thrown at protesters in Laurelhurst Park on Aug. 8.
Investigators do not have the device that was allegedly used and no witnesses have spoken with police about the incident, Carmon told Task & Purpose on Aug. 13.
Fernbaugh said he has no plans to meet with police investigators in person.
“Staying at my residence, or in even in the Portland area put lives at risk,” Fernbaugh wrote in an email. “Therefore, the smart decision was to leave the area. I have contacted the detective who named me as a person of interest and she understands my decision to leave. It would, therefore, be impossible to personally visit with the police at this time.”
Around 2:28 a.m. on Aug. 8, police officers arrived at Laurelhurst Park in response to a 911 call about “bombs” exploding, a Portland Police Bureau news release said. Officers spoke to people at the scene who told police they had not heard anything. Other people scattered after police arrived.
Scott Keeler, an independent videographer who attended the protest, told Oregon Public Broadcasting that he followed a man with a military helmet and night vision goggles after the incident. Keeler posted a video of his encounter with the man, who denied throwing pipe bombs at protesters.
Fernbaugh told Task & Purpose that he is the man seen in Keeler’s video, but he said the interaction took place between two and three hours after police arrived at the park.
However, Keeler told Task & Purpose on Tuesday that he saw Fernbaugh immediately after the explosion and took the video of him roughly 30 minutes later.
Fernbaugh also said he was wearing a tactical helmet with night vision goggles because he was doing reconnaissance on ANTIFA – a coalition of far left-wing organizations that includes militant activists – as part of his effort to develop “a service for law enforcement.”
“In addition to President Trump declaring by executive order that ANTIFA is a domestic terrorist organization, I also described that Unconventional Warfare (UW) experts that I've spoken to agree that ANTIFA meets the criteria of a domestic terrorist organization and is conducting an insurrection,” Fernbaugh said.
“My education and experience uniquely qualifies me to develop strategies to counter this threat.”