Neighbor of Gales Addition suspect cites property-line dispute
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Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Dan Davis gestures Friday as he describes seeing a man driving a logging bulldozer destroy his truck and several homes in Gales Addition east of Port Angeles.

By Jeremy Schwartz

PORT ANGELES — A neighbor of Barry Swegle's said the two had argued in the past about the line between their properties before today's rampage that destroyed two of the neighbor's houses.

Dan Davis, 74, and others told of a man on heavy machinery tearing into homes, rolling over a pickup truck and smashing through a portion of Gales Addition east of town.

Barry Alan Swegle, 51, was being held Saturday in the Clallam County jail for investigation of malicious mischief in the first degree.

Davis said Swegle had driven past Davis' property Friday morning and made obscene gestures at him.

Then between 11:30 a.m. and noon, according to multiple witness accounts, Swegle allegedly got into a logging bulldozer — parked on Swegle's property a stone's throw east of Davis' lot — and drove west along a dirt alleyway toward a manufactured home on Davis' property.

Davis said he had been working on this house in preparation for putting it up for rent.

Davis said that as Swegle traveled west, he lowered the bulldozer's blade and drove through a portion of Davis' chain-link fence, taking out a buried phone line and destroying the house's connection to nearby power lines.

Davis said Swegle then turned the bulldozer around and headed east, plowing into the manufactured home on Davis' property and pushing it completely off its foundation and into a neighboring house.

Chris Main, who lives across East Pioneer Road to the south of Davis' property, said Swegle then backed the bulldozer up and demolished Davis' Ford F-250 pickup truck, knocking over a power pole before heading east again.

“That was a sight to behold,” said neighbor and witness Phil Riley, describing the bulldozer backing up three times over Davis' truck.

“It looks like a bomb went off,” Riley told a friend on the phone.

Main said Swegle continued through Davis' neighbor's front yard, knocking down another line of fences, and clipped the northwest corner of another home as he headed northeast.

Main said he called 9-1-1 emergency dispatchers for help because Swegle was headed in that direction, and Main thought he was not veering away from other neighbors running from the bulldozer.

“He's got no concern for human life,” Main said he told the 9-1-1 dispatcher.

Swegle then reportedly continued northeast toward Davis' home, where Davis' wife, Mary, 74, was resting inside.

Davis said he had tried to call her on his cellphone as Swegle approached the house but could not get through immediately.

“I told her to get the heck out of there,” Davis said when his wife called back.

Davis said Swegle took out the entire east side of his home before turning north and destroying the Davises' home office.

Davis said Swegle also plowed through Davis' boat shed and damaged his garage before heading north into a wooded area, where law enforcement officers reportedly caught up with Swegle and told him to turn off the bulldozer.

“That's when police showed up, and two deputies came up with assault rifles,” Main said.

Swegle was then taken into custody without incident, Clallam County Undersheriff Ron Peregrin said.

In addition to two of his houses, Davis said many of his tools, his boat and valuables inside his home were destroyed.

“I'm happy no one got killed,” Davis said.



Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at jschwartz@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: May 12. 2013 8:48AM
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