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January 7, 2015

FBI investigating explosion near NAACP office in Colorado Springs

FBI investigating explosion near NAACP office in Colorado Springs

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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

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An explosion that took place in a barber shop next door to the Colorado Springs, Colorado office of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) yesterday is currently being investigated by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, as well as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Officials said the explosive device was placed next to a can of gasoline but the gasoline did not ignite after the device detonated.

The FBI are seeking a balding white male, aged about 40 years old, as a “person of interest” connected to the case. The FBI statement continued: “He may be driving a 2000 or older model dirty, white pick-up truck with paneling, a dark colored bed liner, open tailgate, and a missing or covered license plate”.

FBI Special Agent Amy Sanders said: “The investigation is ongoing and it is not known at this time if the NAACP or a business in the vicinity was the intended target”.

Gene Southerland, owner of Mr. G’s Hair Design Studios, said: “I was cutting somebody’s hair and I heard the explosion […] It was such a loud explosion that some plastic containers fell off the shelf.” Southerland continued: “Some neighbors came out and said they saw a Caucasian gentleman get into a white truck […] It was such a beautiful day and everything, sunny. And in broad daylight, you hear this explosion. It’s frightening”.

Henry Allen Jr, the president of the Colorado Springs branch of the NAACP, told reporters: “We’ll move on. This won’t deter us from doing the job we want to do in the community.” The NAACP national office put out a statement stating that the group “looks forward to a full and thorough investigation into this matter by federal agents and local law enforcement”.

US Congressman Doug Lamborn told Colorado Springs newspaper The Gazette by email: “I’m thankful that none of the volunteers or employees of the Colorado Springs NAACP were injured in today’s apparent bombing […] I hope that the FBI investigation is able to swiftly apprehend the people responsible for this act of violence and intimidation.”



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September 26, 2014

Chicago air traffic facility evacuated for basement fire

Chicago air traffic facility evacuated for basement fire

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Friday, September 26, 2014

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A Chicago, Illinois air traffic facility was evacuated early this morning due to a fire. The fire occurred in a telecommunications room in the basement. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) grounded all metropolitan Chicago flights and transferred airspace responsibilities to nearby facilities to accommodate affected air traffic.

FAA Seal.

Authorities, including a spokesman for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said they suspected an FAA contractor set the basement on fire, but did not believe him to be a terrorist. He was later hospitalized for a self-inflicted wound. Another employee was treated for smoke inhalation.

Flights already en-route to the Chicago metropolitan area were still allowed to either continue more slowly or divert to another unaffected airport. The FAA said passengers in the area and surrounding airports and possibly airports around the region, might experience flight delays or cancellations, causing long lines at airports, and encouraged them to check flight information with their carriers.

The incident is being investigated by the FAA, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Aurora Police and Fire departments.



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June 11, 2009

Three dead after ConAgra plant explosion, all inside now accounted for

Three dead after ConAgra plant explosion, all inside now accounted for

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Thursday, June 11, 2009

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After an explosion Tuesday at a ConAgra Food plant in Garner, North Carolina in the United States, three employees were unaccounted for as search teams carefully worked through the rubble. The search was hampered by stormy weather, darkness of night, and the instability of the partially collapsed building. The bodies of all three have now been recovered. They were Rachel Mae Poston Pulley, Lewis Watson, and Barbara Spears.

The latest estimate is that 41 people were transported to area hospitals, including seven to the North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center in Chapel Hill. Of those seven, four remain in critical condition, two are in fair condition, and one is in good condition. A prayer vigil is scheduled for Friday night at an area church for the dead and injured.

Garner, North Carolina
Image: Seth Ilys.

The cause of the explosion is still unknown, though investigators from several agencies have already begun examining the remains of the building for clues. The U.S. Chemical Safety Board is already on scene investigating, and the National Response Team of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives will arrive Thursday to conduct their own investigation.

KYTX-TV News is reporting that police are investigating a suspicious phone call to the plant over the weekend, but will not comment if that call is related to the accident.

ConAgra CEO Gary Rodkin has already taken steps to compensate the injured employees. They will continue to receive their regular paychecks for the foreseeable future. In addition, the company itself has started a United Way fund to support the families of those involved in the accident. It has seeded the fund with US$100,000 of its own money, and is encouraging ConAgra employees from other internationally located plants to donate to the fund as well.



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October 29, 2008

Two men arrested in Tennessee for plot to kill Obama and school children

Two men arrested in Tennessee for plot to kill Obama and school children

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

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The United States federal law enforcement agency, ATF, had two young men in the state of Tennessee arrested by the local Crockett County sheriff’s department on October 22 on unspecified charges.

In court documents published on Monday, it came to light that the men allegedly had discussed committing a school shooting at a predominately African-American school and beheading 14 of them.

Another alleged plot involved the assassination of Presidential candidate Barack Obama. According to affidavits, the suspects’ “final act of violence” would be when they assaulted Obama while wearing white tuxedos and top hats and driving “their vehicle as fast as they could toward Obama shooting at him from the windows.”

Photo from Schlesselman’s MySpace page

The two suspects are Paul Schlesselman, 18, of West Helena, Arkansas and Daniel Cowart, 20, of Bells, Tennessee. According to court papers, they met last month over the internet through a mutual friend. Schlesselman and Cowart are alleged to share “very strong views” about White Power.

Schlesselman listed “being racist” as his occupation on his MySpace page. He further wrote: “I’m white. I’m proud. I get angry. I like guns. I like weapons. I need money wiggers … be afraid.”

Cowart also had a MySpace page on which photos of weapons were presented under a heading of “My Guns”. On his page he wrote, “Better to die quick fighting on your feet then [sic] to live forever begging on your knees.”

Some have questioned the pair’s ability to carry out the alleged schemes, but authorities have been very concerned about Obama as the first black presidential nominee from a major party.

“We honestly don’t know if they had the capability or the wherewithal to carry out the kind of plan that they talked about,” said Malcolm Wiley, of the United States Secret Service in an interview with The New York Times. “But we take any threat seriously no matter how big or how small it is.”

Cowart and Schlesselman are scheduled to appear before a judge on Thursday. They are being held without bond. No co-conspirators have been found or alleged.



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May 5, 2008

Pipe bomb explodes outside California courthouse

Pipe bomb explodes outside California courthouse

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Monday, May 5, 2008

This map shows the incorporated and unincorporated areas in San Diego County, California, highlighting San Diego in red.
Image: Arkyan.

No one was injured when one or more pipe bombs exploded outside the Edward J. Schwartz Federal Courthouse located in San Diego, California.

The bomb exploded around 1:40 a.m. Sunday morning on May 4, 2008 and was reported by guards patrolling the building. Debris from the blast was found across the street in the AT&T building eight stories above the lobby of the courthouse. Doors were blown out along with several windows, but there was no other damage.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is investigating the incident and evidence has been sent to an FBI laboratory in Virginia for analysis.

Video footage from surrounding cameras is being analyzed, but so far there are no suspects and no one has claimed responsibility for the blast. The courthouse did not receive any threats prior to the blast. Authorities swept the areas surrounding the courthouse, but no other explosive devices were found.

The courthouse will remain closed today to repair the damage and for authorities to finish the investigation.



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September 21, 2007

Two students shot at Delaware State University

Two students shot at Delaware State University

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Correction — March 22, 2011
 
The female victim was taken to Christiana Hospital in Newark, Delaware. This article reflects a report at the time that “officials” had said Newark, New Jersey; Wikinews has no information on the accuracy of the report.
 

Friday, September 21, 2007

One male and one female who are students attending Delaware State University in Dover, Delaware are reported to have been shot around 1:00 a.m. (eastern time). The shooting took place near Memorial Hall gymnasium.

“At approximately 12:54 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 21, the Delaware State University Police Department was notified of an incident in which two students were shot on campus near Memorial Hall. A single male suspect is being sought, but has not yet been apprehended. The investigation is continuing with the assistance of other local police,” said a statement on the university’s website.

Both have been injured and have been taken to a nearby hospital for medical attention. The university’s statement says that the “male student is in stable condition, however, the female student’s injuries are considered serious.” The female, taken to Christiana Hospital in Newark, New Jersey, was shot twice, whereas the male, who was taken to Kent General Hospital located in Dover, was shot only once.

“Eight to ten students dispersed from a cafe. Shortly before 1:00 a.m. (eastern time)” a student “pulled a gun” and “five or six shots were fired. The female was shot twice, the male once,” said Chief James Overton of the Massachusetts State Police during a press conference, who also said that several agencies including the FBI, The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and local police are participating in the investigation.

Police are currently searching for the suspect and all classes at the university have been canceled indefinitely and anyone on campus is asked to stay inside at all times. Police also ask for no staff or students to come to the campus.

According to Overton, at least two people are considered to be “persons of interest.” At least one individual is being questioned by police, but the other is still at large.

“Because the suspect is still at large, residential students are directed to remain in their residence halls for their safety until further notice. Classes on the Dover campus of Delaware State University have been canceled for Friday, Sept. 21 in the wake of an early morning shooting at the institution that has left two students wounded and a suspect at large. All non-essential personnel are directed not to report to work on this day,” said a statement posted on the university’s website.



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July 20, 2007

Rocket launcher found in yard of New Jersey home

Rocket launcher found in yard of New Jersey home

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Friday, July 20, 2007

Map showing location of Jersey City.

Police in Jersey City, New Jersey in the United States say that they have found a 20 year old rocket launcher tube, capable of shooting down planes, on the front yard of a home that is reported to be directly in the path of Newark Liberty International Airport. Police say that the weapon was not in operating condition.

Firing an AT-4 produces a large back blast, a significant problem when operating the weapon in urban environments.

“I was shocked. I read it and it and [there was the word missile] on it. There was little ‘missile’ writing on it. I was afraid because of what people want to do to this country,” said Niranjana Besai who was born in India and has lived in the U.S. for 25 years who discovered the weapon at about 8:00 a.m EDT (UTC-4) when she was leaving the house to go to work.

According to Modern Firearms, the weapon can only be used once, saying it “is a disposable, single shot, recoilless weapon” and can hit a target with a range of “up to 150 meters [to use] against moving targets, and about 300 meters against stationary targets.”

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives confirms that the weapon is of military issue and has been identified as a model AT-4, primarily used as an anti-tank weapon. It is manufactured by Saab Bofors Dynamics in Sweden. No explosive devices have been located at the scene. The Associated Press says that the weapon was made to be used during training missions and anti-tank artillery. The U.S. Army at Fort Monmouth in Oceanport, New Jersey is now in possession of the weapon.

“The device has been turned over to United States Army officials at Fort Monmouth,” said Jersey City police in a statement to the press which also confirmed the weapon was a U.S. military issued launcher and was “no longer operable and not considered to be a hazard to public safety.”

It is not known how the weapon ended up in Besai’s yard. The Joint Terrorism Task Force and FBI have confiscated the weapon, before turning it over to the army, and they are investigating the incident.

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June 12, 2007

Bail denied in Laos overthrow plot, Hmong protest

Bail denied in Laos overthrow plot, Hmong protest

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Laos
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  • 20 June 2007: Suspect in Laos plot detained in Thailand; suspects plead not guilty in California
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Tuesday, June 12, 2007 File:Vangpao.png

Vang Pao circa 1962 to circa 1964.
(Image missing from commons: image; log)

Vang Pao, the Hmong military leader charged with plotting to overthrow the government of Laos, was ordered yesterday by a United States federal court judge to remain in custody without bail.

U.S. Magistrate Edmund Brennan ruled that Vang Pao, 77, despite his age and ill health, posed too great a danger and a flight risk to be released.

“It’s not up to private groups to decide which countries the United States should be at war with and at peace with,” Brennan said.

Vang Pao and nine other people, mostly members of the Hmong immigrant community in California’s Central Valley, were arrested last week in a sting operation by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Authorities say the group was planning to buy a cache of arms, ship them to Thailand and then smuggle them into Laos, where they would blow up government buildings in Vientiane, the Laotian capital.

Outside the federal courthouse in Sacramento, California yesterday, about 2,000 white-clad supporters rallied for Vang Pao’s release, holding portraits of the former Royal Lao Army general and waving signs saying “Honor your war heroes – don’t jail them” and “Free our leader.”

“He is to us like George Washington is to American citizens,” Vang Zang, a Hmong leader from Minnesota was quoted as saying to the crowd by the Sacramento Bee. “The government has wrongly accused our father. But the moment he is released, he will go up ten times in popularity.”

Vang Pao led a covert Hmong army backed by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency during the Laotian Civil War, or the “Secret War”, which paralleled the U.S. fight against communism in Vietnam and the Vietnam War.

Since immigrating to the U.S. after the fall of Laos to communism in 1975, Vang Pao has become an American citizen and is viewed as a folk hero by the Hmong people.

Vang Pao’s attorneys are Thomas Heffelfinger, a former federal prosecutor hired by Vang Pao’s supporters, and John Balazs, a court-appointed defense lawyer from Sacramento. They argued that Vang Pao is “a man of peace” and too old and infirm to be jailed. Doing so, Balazs said, “could be a death sentence.”

It’s possible that Vang Pao could safely be released to house arrest and that access to communications devices be restricted, Balaz told the magistrate.

Nonetheless, Balazs also described his client as “a warrior, this is a legal battle, and he’s in it to the end.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Bob Twiss argued that Vang Pao is too dangerous and influential, and could still organize a plot no matter what restrictions were placed on him if he were freed.

“Thousands of people came here on the day of his detention hearing,” Twiss was quoted as saying in an interview with Associated Press. “If General Vang Pao were to pick up a cellphone, is there any doubt they wouldn’t execute his order? To me, it was an indication of his ability to effectuate action indirectly.”


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  • “Ten charged with plot to overthrow Laos government” — Wikinews, June 5, 2007

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June 5, 2007

Ten charged with plot to overthrow Laos government

Ten charged with plot to overthrow Laos government

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Tuesday, June 5, 2007

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Pha That Luang in Vientiane, the national symbol of Laos.
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Ten people, including former Royal Lao Army general Vang Pao, 77, and a former United States Army officer Harrison Jack, 60, were arrested Monday in six different cities in California, USA after authorities with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), uncovered a plot to bring down the government of Laos.

Suspects were arrested in Chico, Fresno, Los Angeles, Sacramento, Stockton and Woodland.

The plot, said prosecutors, involved obtaining C-4 explosives, AK-47 rifles, rockets, land mines and Stinger missiles, which were to be shipped to Thailand, and then used to take down the main branch of the Laotian government by blowing up the government’s main buildings in Vientiane, the capital of Laos.

The bombs would be deployed using “special operation mercenaries,” but undercover agents working with the ATF foiled the plot when the suspects were tricked into buying the weapons and supplies they needed from the undercover agents. The government’s investigation was dubbed “Operation Tarnished Eagle”.

“These defendants had developed an audacious plan to overthrow the government of Laos, and were seeking to arm themselves with automatic rifles, rockets and surface-to-air missiles,” said the assistant to the U.S. Attorney General, Kenneth Wainstein in a statement to the press.

“The individuals arrested today thought an arms dealer would provide the necessary weapons and personnel to assist them in the violent overthrow of another government. An undercover ATF agent led them to believe he could fulfill their needs,” said acting ATF director Michael Sullivan in a statement to the press.

According to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court, the plot was put together by a Lao liberation movement known as Neo Hom, led in the U.S. by Vang Pao, and had conducted extensive fund-raising activities, surveillance operations and an insurgent force within Laos.

Vang Pao led Hmong forces backed by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency against the communist Pathet Lao in the “Secret War” in Laos in the 1960s and 1970s. He served in the Royal Army of Laos, holding the rank of major general. After the fall of Laos to the communists in 1975, Vang Pao immigrated to the U.S., where he is a folk hero among Laotian refugees. There were plans to name an elementary school after him in Wisconsin, which is home to many Hmong people.

Map of Laos showing the capital, Vientiane.

Another man named in the charges, Jack, is a former California National Guard lieutenant colonel and a 1968 West Point graduate. He was involved in covert operations during the Vietnam War. Jack acted as an arms broker and organizer of the plot, according to the criminal complaint.

Most of the remaining suspects had fought in Laos with Vang Pao, the complaint said. Among those named in the complaint are seven prominent members of the Hmong community in California’s Central Valley. They are:

  • Lo Cha Thao, 34, of Clovis in Fresno County. Had worked as an aide to a former Wisconsin state senator.
  • Lo Thao, 53, of Sacramento County, president of United Hmong International (also known as the Supreme Council of the Hmong 18 Clans).
  • Youa True Vang, 60, of Fresno, founder of Fresno’s Hmong International New Year.
  • Hue Vang, 39, of Fresno, a former Clovis police officer. Director of United Lao Council for Peace, Freedom, and Reconstruction.
  • Chong Yang Thao, 53, a Fresno chiropractor.
  • Seng Vue, 68, of Fresno, member of United Hmong International.
  • Chue Lo, 59, of Stockton, member of United Hmong International.

A tenth person arrested, but not yet charged, was Nhia Kao Vang of Rancho Cordova, California.

Laotian and Thai reaction

The Laotian government welcomed the arrests. “We praise the U.S. government as the group committed wrong doing against the Laos government which has good relations with the US,” said Yong Chanthalangsy, Laotian Foreign Ministry spokesman.

Thailand, which was to be used as a transit country for the arms, said it would investigate the plot as well. “Thailand has a clear policy not to allow any party to use our territory as a lunching pad against our neighbors,” said Tharit Charungvat, Thai Foreign Ministry spokesman.

In the past year, Thailand has had to deal with a stream of Hmong refugees, and has been forcibly repatriating them to Laos. Many of the refugees said they were associates of Secret War veterans and were fleeing from persecution. They hoped to follow other Hmong refugees to the West.

Laos spokesman Yong said the Hmong in Thailand were not fighters but victims of human traffickers, and that dissident groups had been long ago been suppressed in Laos. “The arrest of Vang Pao and his group might not have direct impact to Laos as we have nothing to do with them, but it would be a good news for Hmong minorities since the traffickers would have no excuse to lure them to Thailand to seek resettlement in the U.S. with Vang Pao,” Yong said.

On Monday, Thai and Laotian officials met in Bangkok to discuss border security issues, and the two countries agreed to deport the Hmong in Thailand to Laos, Yong said.

Both Laos and Vietnam remain under communist governments. In 2005, the U.S. normalized trade agreements with Laos.

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May 14, 2007

Smoke from massive warehouse fire in Buffalo, New York USA can be seen 40 miles away

Smoke from massive warehouse fire in Buffalo, New York USA can be seen 40 miles away

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Looking at the fire 1 mile away facing the west, northwest.
Image: Jason Safoutin.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Buffalo, New York — A massive warehouse complex of at least 5 buildings caught on fire in Buffalo, New York on 111 Tonawanda Street, sending a plume of thick, jet black colored smoke into the air that could be seen as far away as 40 miles.

As of 6:40 a.m., the fire was under control, and firefighters were attempting to stop it from spreading, but could not get to the center of the fire because of severe amounts of debris. Later in the morning, the fire was extinguished.

“The fire is mostly under debris at this point. It’s under control, but it’s under some debris. We really can’t get to it. We’re just going to have to keep on pouring water on it so it doesn’t spread,” said Thomas Ashe, the fire chief for the North Buffalo based fire division who also added that at one point, at least 125 firefighters were on the scene battling the blaze. One suffered minor injures and was able to take himself to the hospital to seek medical attention.

Shortly after 8:00 p.m. as many as 3 explosions rocked the warehouse sending large mushroom clouds of thick black smoke into the air. After the third explosion, heat could be felt more than 100 feet away. The fire started in the front, one story building then quickly spread to three others, but fire fighters managed to stop the flames from spreading onto the 3 story building all the way at the back.

According to a Buffalo Police officer, who wished not to be named, the fire began at about 7:00 p.m. [Eastern time], starting as a one alarm fire. By 8:00 p.m., three fire companies were on the scene battling the blaze. Police also say that a smaller fire was reported in the same building on Saturday night, which caused little damage.

At the start of the fire, traffic was backed up nearly 4 miles on the 198 expressway going west toward the 190 Interstate and police had to shut down the Tonawanda street exit because the road is too close to the fire.

At one point, traffic on the 198 was moving so slow, at least a dozen people were seen getting out of their cars and walking down the expressway to watch the fire. That prompted as many as 10 police cars to be dispatched to the scene to force individuals back into their cars and close off one of the 2 lanes on the westbound side.

One woman, who wished not to be named as she is close to the owner of the warehouse, said the building is filled with “classic cars, forklifts, and money” and that owner “does not have insurance” coverage on the property. The building is not considered abandoned, but firefighters said that it is vacant.

Officials in Fort Erie, Ontario were also swamped with calls to fire departments when the wind blew the smoke over the Niagra River and into Canada.

It is not known what caused the fire, but a car is suspected to have caught on fire and there are reports from police and hazmat crews, that there were also large barrels of diesel fuel being stored in one building. Firefighters say the cause of the blaze is being treated as “suspicious.” The ATF is investigating the fire and will bring dogs in to search the debris.

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