Last April, a group of masked men detonated two bombs in the Spokane Valley and robbed a bank there. That act of domestic terrorism was repeated in July, when another bomb was set off and the same bank robbed.
These are the events leading up to the arrest in Yakima on Tuesday of three men believed to be tied to the bombings and robberies:
Two heavily armed men rob and bomb the U.S. Bank branch at Mullan and Sprague in the Spokane Valley. The same men are suspected of detonating a bomb outside the Valley office of The Spokesman-Review minutes earlier. Authorities believe the newspaper bombing was designed to distract them from the bank robbery. No one is hurt, but the bandits escape in a white van with more than $50,000 in cash. The van is found abandoned near the bank. The robbers leave a note at the bank and the newspaper office suggesting ties to white supremacist groups.
FBI agents say they believe four people took part in the bombings and robbery, and confirm the bandits shouted about the long-running standoff with the Montana freemen as they fled the bank.
Masked men set off a bomb at the Planned Parenthood clinic in the Valley before robbing the U.S. Bank branch at Sprague and Mullan again. The events are almost a carbon copy of the April 1 incidents. No one is hurt, although there is heavy damage to the clinic. The bandits again escape in a white van, later found abandoned. The FBI categorizes the bombing and robbery as domestic terrorism and calls in more than 50 agents to investigate.
FBI regional boss Burdena Pasenelli says agents are investigating leads in Western Washington, where both getaway vans were stolen.
Officials announce a $115,000 reward for information leading to the apprehension of the bombers.
The Spokesman-Review receives a copy of a note signed by a white supremacist sect called the Phineas Priesthood threatening retaliation if the $115,000 reward is not rescinded. The note also was sent to U.S. Bank, which put up $100,000 of the reward money.
The Washington Bankers Association increases the reward to $130,000. “It is important to take a stand against domestic terrorism of any kind,” the association says in a prepared statement.
FBI agents swarm a convenience store in Yakima and arrest three men suspected of taking part in the Valley bombings and bank robberies.
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