IN a bizarre rampage, a Washington man used his bulldozer to demolish four homes, crush a pickup truck and knock down a utility pole, leaving thousands without power.
A fuming Barry Swegle apparently flew into a rage over a long-running dispute with a neighbor in Port Angeles, authorities say, and wreaked $300,000 worth of havoc.
“One house was actually taken off its foundation and basically demolished,” said Clallam County Sheriff ’s spokesman Jim Borte.
“If anybody had been in that house, I don’t think they would have survived. He also struck three other homes and a garage, and ran over a pickup truck. It’s completely totaled as well.”
Neighbor Keith Haynes, a former law enforcement officer, added: “It was like a war zone.”
Swegle, 51, runs a small business that’s done work in logging, trucking and land development, and for months he’d been battling with a neighbor over a chain-link fence that he said blocked him from moving his equipment, according to his brother Jeff Swegle.
“That fence was a ticking time bomb,” noted Jeff. “I knew Barry was capable of tearing the fence out, but not the homes and the power pole. I didn’t think he was that mad.”
But the May 10 outburst didn’t surprise neighbor Barbara Porter, who said the squabbling had gotten so nasty that she was expecting Swegle to take action.
“I heard him coming and I thought, Oh, no, Barry’s going to do something bad,” she said.
“I watched out my window and saw him push one mobile home into mine, and then he drove over a pickup truck and smashed it all up. Then he went down to another house and started tearing it up.”
Swegle also flattened a $10,000 riding lawn mower and a $5,000 chain-link fence, authorities say.
Swegle – who authorities say has a long rap sheet that includes burglary, stalking and public indecency – has pleaded not guilty to nine charges, including assault with a deadly weapon. He’s being held on $1 million bail and faces life in prison without parole. His trial is set for Aug. 12.
“He’ll lose everything over this,” said his brother. “It’s a hard lesson.”