The man suspected of stealing an airplane from Jefferson County International Airport and then crashing it near La Push sometime late Tuesday was banned from all Port of Port Townsend facilities in …
The man suspected of stealing an airplane from Jefferson County International Airport and then crashing it near La Push sometime late Tuesday was banned from all Port of Port Townsend facilities in 2017 following a series of outbursts and aggressive behavior, according to records obtained by The Leader.
Richard Jordal was originally identified Wednesday by the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office as a person of interest in the theft of a Cessna 150 from the airport.
Jordal was seriously injured in the crash and had to be airlifted from the scene to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.
It was the end of what had been a thus-far fruitless search.
According to Detective Sgt. Brett Anglin of the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office, police received a call Tuesday about a suspicious man at the airport who had allegedly approached a plane owner wanting to rent an aircraft.
The man failed to produce any license or insurance when asked, and the plane owner refused to give him an aircraft and called police to report the incident.
The caller also told police that at the time the man asked to rent a plane, another plane was parked nearby; a blue-and-white Cessna 150.
The Cessna was later discovered missing.
Police were able to track the missing aircraft using its GPS signal as it headed west.
Possibly, Anglin said, the plane stopped briefly at the Bremerton National Airport before continuing west.
The GPS signal was lost about 20 miles north of Hoquiam and police were then unable to track or locate the plane.
According to the sheriff's office, at about 10:30 p.m. Tuesday a witness reported a possible plane crash near the La Push area.
Deputies and law enforcement attempted to search the area but could not locate anything due to the spot being so remote and heavily wooded.
The search was resumed Wednesday morning and a Navy helicopter crew reported finding a downed plane with a pilot in critical condition.
Whether Jordan was actually inside the plane or near it at that time was unclear, according to Anglin.
The airport is Port of Port Townsend property, and Jordal has run afoul of Port staff in the past.
Records obtained by The Leader Thursday detail a series of past disputes Jordal had with others at Port properties, starting in 2017 when his vessel "Naiad" was dry docked at Boat Haven Marina.
According to a 2017 email message to Port staff from Terry Khile, the Port's operations manager, Jordal had reportedly thrown a hammer at a woman while on Port property.
She declined to proceed with legal action, however.
"They talked to the young lady that he threw the hammer at and she is not willing to move forward with any charges," read the email. "If and when the yard crew has conversation with Mr. Jordal they will be in pairs for our own protection and for a witness of any interaction."
In a separate complaint from another Port tenant, Jordal allegedly took a bicycle without permission on multiple occasions and engaged in continued harassing and threatening behavior.
"[Jordal] and a number of others were up drinking and yelling the entire night," the complaint said. "Around 11:30 I noticed a spotlight coming through our windows and it was Rich checking out our boat on the opposite side of where his boat is."
"I was busy gathering my belongings so the boat could be moved," the complaint continued. "Apparently he was asked to move some of his stuff, threw a tantrum and threw a bunch of my stuff around."
In his complaint, the tenant said he felt vulnerable in the boatyard after Jordal's behavior took an even more threatening turn.
"Rich drove up to me pointing at me and verbally threatened me saying, 'You, you better watch yourself. I'm talking to you and only you.'"
Police were summoned to talk with Jordal, according to additional records obtained by The Leader, and he was subsequently banned from Port properties.
In a Sept. 28, 2017 memo to staff, Khile said, "The police had talked to him yesterday with a warning that he needed to behave and any more outbursts [and] he will be arrested."
Jordal was ejected and banned from all Port properties due to "engaging in behavior that creates a nuisance on Port properties" and "failure to safely navigate in the harbor, resulting in a collision and damage to another vessel," according to a notice by the Port issued Oct. 3, 2017.
The investigation into the theft of the Cessna is continuing, and the sheriff’s office confirmed Thursday they are working with at least one agent from the Federal Bureau of Investigation in relation to the case.
Security video from the airport shows a suspect breaking into an office and stealing a log book and keys, and Anglin said police believe that only Jordal was in the aircraft at the time of the crash.
Anglin said the FBI is concerned primarily with the actual crash of the plane and that federal charges may eventually be filed due to Jordal's operating a plane without a license and potentially traveling through restricted airspace without permission.
Meanwhile, local authorities remain in charge of the burglary and theft aspects of the case.
Aircraft theft is not a common crime, Anglin said, and police recalled the case of Colton Harris Moore, the notorious "Barefoot Bandit" who was later sent to prison after a string of burglaries and stolen boats and aircraft.
Moore is not a suspect in this incident, Anglin added.