Copyright 1995, The Spokesman-Review
A week after the Oklahoma City bombing, the FBI uncovered a possible plot to blow up the federal building in Spokane with a fertilizer bomb.
An informer told agents that Darwin Michael Gray of Spokane had obtained blueprints of the nine-story U.S. Court House at Riverside and Monroe, and had detonated practice fertilizer bombs, court documents say.
Gray, a lifelong friend of Randy Weaver codefendant Kevin Harris, has not been charged in the alleged plot. He is being held on unrelated drug and weapons charges.
“It remains an open investigation at this point,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Earl Hicks.
A spokesman for the General Services Administration, which manages the building, said the U.S. Marshals Service told them of the alleged plot.
The GSA has posted security guards and installed concrete barriers at the Court House. That move is primarily part of tighter security at all federal buildings following the Oklahoma City bombing, said spokesman Rick Desimone.
The suspected plot was kept secret for six weeks.
Details of the case are in court documents that were made public Thursday. They were unsealed as federal prosecutors sought successfully to keep Gray in jail without bond until he stands trial next month on marijuana and firearms charges. He has pleaded not guilty.
A search of Gray’s East Nora home found no bomb-making components. But agents found three bomb-making publications, including one about plastic explosives and another about home-made detonators, court documents say.
It is not illegal to possess such material. Gray, a 27-year-old unemployed insulation installer, refused requests for an interview Thursday.
The FBI heard about him on April 27, eight days after the Oklahoma City bombing at the Alfred P. Murrah Building that killed 167 people.
The FBI “received information from a concerned citizen that Darwin Michael Gray and another individual were involved in the manufacture and testing of destructive devices, more specifically, fertilizer bombs,” court documents say.
The informer isn’t identified in the documents.
“According to the concerned citizen, Gray and the second individual had been detonating progressively larger fertilizer bombs at an unknown location in the woods for approximately one and one-half months,” the documents say.
Federal sources familiar with the investigation say the practice bombs were exploded at a remote location in Pend Oreille County.
The documents identify the second person involved as David Plunkett of Clayton, Wash.
He was interviewed by FBI agents on May 5 and admitted that he “had utilized fertilizer and other chemicals in the past to construct explosives for stump removal.”
Plunkett said he knew nothing about Gray’s activities, the documents say.
Efforts to reach Plunkett for comment Thursday were unsuccessful.
The informer who called the FBI said he talked with Plunkett after the Oklahoma City bombing.
Plunkett “expressed concern…that Gray had obtained blueprints of the Federal Building in Spokane and had talked of using the fertilizer bombs against this building,” the documents say.
A confidential Washington State Patrol intelligence flier, examined by The Spokesman-Review, says Gray worked for a Spokane insulation company that did work at Court House.
“He did some work at the Spokane federal building and stole blueprints of the building,” the intelligence flier says.
Gray “is reportedly an Aryan Nation’s affiliate,” who is “making explosives and talking about blowing up the federal building,” the flier says.
It also says Gray was investigated in 1983 for a burglary and theft, and at the time was “suicidal and under psychiatric care.”
The GSA’s Desimone said blueprints of the Spokane federal building, and others in the region, are available, but generally only are given to contractors bidding on remodeling projects.
“It’s hard for me to conjecture as to how he would have obtained a set of blueprints for that building,” Desimone said.
The informer told authorities that Plunkett feared Gray was serious and tried to distance himself.
While Gray was under investigation for the alleged bombing plot, agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms learned that marijuana apparently was being grown in his home.
They searched his home at 2913 E. Nora on May 5 and found 43 growing marijuana plants and two dried plants.
The search occurred after a Drug Enforcement Administration agent, posing as a postal carrier, knocked on Gray’s door with a special delivery letter.
The letter supposedly was from attorney Gerry Spence, who defended Weaver at his murder trial last year in Boise. Weaver and Harris were found innocent in the 1992 killing of a deputy U.S. marshal at Weaver’s cabin near Naples, Idaho.
Harris was a friend of the Weaver family and was living in their Ruby Ridge cabin at the time of the shootings.
On May 5, when Gray stepped out of his house to get the letter, agents arrested him on charges of growing marijuana, being a felon in possession of firearms and use of a firearm during a drug crime.
Authorities said they used the ruse because friends described Gray as a “volatile individual” who was believed to be armed.
He was living at the East Nora home with his common-law wife and small children.
Gray later said he was targeted by federal agents because he was a vocal critic of their conduct in the Weaver case.
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