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Saturday, May 11, 2013 - Page updated at 09:00 p.m.

Man damages 4 Washington homes with bulldozer

Times staff and news services

A Clallam County man angry at his neighbors went on a rampage with a bulldozer Friday, damaging four homes, knocking one off its foundation and cutting power to thousands of people, authorities said.

The homes sustained substantial damage, but nobody was hurt, said Jim Borte of the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office. The incident occurred in a subdivision near Highway 101 and North Baker Street, east of Port Angeles.

A “highly agitated” Barry Alan Swegle, 51, was booked into the Clallam County Jail for investigation of first-degree malicious mischief, a class B felony, Borte said.

Investigators were told that Swegle and his neighbors had a long-running dispute, but it’s not clear over what, Borte said.

A neighbor named Phil Riley said a disagreement over a property line had been escalating for a long time between Swegle and Dan Davis, whose two properties were severely damaged, according to the Peninsula Daily News.

Jesse Major, a 19-year-old student who said his grandmother lives in one of the damaged homes, said Swegle is known in the neighborhood because he sometimes digs seemingly random holes with a bulldozer late at night.

Major, who attends Pacific Lutheran University, said his grandmother wasn’t hurt in the incident.

“Of course she was scared,” Major said. “Something was being pushed into her house.”

The rampage knocked over a 70-foot utility pole and left a pickup destroyed. The downed power lines prevented authorities from fully evaluating the damage to the homes.

Swegle “just went nuts,” Keith Haynes, another neighbor, told the newspaper. “He took a skidder and took out two houses. I mean demolished. ... It was like a war zone.”

Borte said the machine was an International Harvester TD-25, similar to a Caterpillar D-9. The Peninsula Daily News reported that Swegle owns it.

Haynes told the Peninsula Daily News that a woman inside one of the homes escaped unharmed.

At one point thousands of people were without power, but within a few hours it had been restored to all but 200 customers, said Clallam County Public Utility District spokesman Mike Howe. He said power would remain out to those customers at least through early Saturday morning.

A voice-mail message left at a phone listing for Swegle was not immediately returned. The Peninsula Daily News says a Barry Swegle logging company is listed as having been founded in 1997, but that the phone number has been disconnected.

Information from Seattle Times staff reporters Brian M. Rosenthal and Erik Lacitis, The Associated Press and the Peninsula Daily news was used in this report.

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