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Feds Order Colbern Held Without Bond Possible Links To Oklahoma City Bombing Are Investigated

SUNDAY, MAY 14, 1995

A fugitive gun enthusiast was ordered held without bond Saturday on charges stemming from an old federal firearms case and from a scuffle with agents who tracked him to a tiny desert town.

The hearing didn’t touch on any connection to the Oklahoma City bombing, though a string of coincidence and Washington sources suggest the possibility that a link is being probed.

Steven Garrett Colbern, 35, spoke only briefly in a short hearing before a federal magistrate, softly answering “yes” when asked if he understood the charges against him: failing to appear in the 1994 California firearms case, resisting arrest and being a fugitive in possession of a firearm. He was not required to enter a plea.

The latter two charges stem from a scuffle when marshals stopped Colbern in the northwestern Arizona tourist town of Oatman.

The defendant, clad in tan prison garb and blue tennis shoes, was bruised and scratched on both arms.

U.S. Magistrate Barry Silverman ordered Colbern held pending a detention hearing Tuesday to consider bond.

Janet Napolitano, the U.S. attorney for Arizona, said she opposes bond because Colbern is a flight risk.

Napolitano refused to comment on any possible connection to the April 19 bombing, which killed 168 people in the nation’s worst domestic terrorist attack.

“The only charges relate to the California warrant and the circumstances surrounding his arrest in Arizona,” she said.

John R. Hannah, named with fellow public defender John M. Sands to represent Colbern, declined to speculate about any connection.

A senior federal official in Washington, speaking to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity, said Friday that investigators are looking into a possible link between Colbern and Timothy McVeigh, one of two men charged with the bombing.

Another possible connection emerged Saturday, when Mohave County authorities revealed that a roommate of Colbern’s was being held in connection with a mysterious explosion that damaged a house outside Kingman, Ariz., on Feb. 21.

The bomb was made of ammonium nitrate and fuel oil, as was the Oklahoma City bomb, and sources in Washington have told the AP that the explosion was being checked as a possible practice bomb.

Sheriff’s deputies ordered reporters to stay 150 feet from the trailer home when they arrested Dennis Kemp Malzac, 37, on Friday night, saying it was a precaution against a possible explosion. Malzac was held in lieu of $50,000 bond on a felony charge of arson of an occupied structure stemming from the Kingman blast, said James Zack, chief deputy county attorney.

Zack said the bombing had no connection with McVeigh. One other man is being sought, he said.

Colbern, described by U.S. marshals as armed, dangerous and trained in survival skills, was tracked Friday to Oatman, a former gold-mining town, population 140, in northwest Arizona’s dry hills.

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