January 22, 2011 in City

Agents gaining ‘clarity’ on Spokane bomb

FBI calls case a top priority, anticipates long investigation
By The Spokesman-Review
 
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Background and the latest updates

Federal investigators indicated Friday that they have made progress in their efforts to identify the person or persons who left a bomb Monday along the route of the planned Martin Luther King Jr. march.

“We’ve obtained quite a bit of clarity” about the events surrounding the discovery of the bomb, said Frank Harrill, special agent in charge of the Spokane office of the FBI. “But we still have a lot of work ahead of us.”

Asked if investigators were close to making an arrest, Harrill said it was impossible to predict because of many factors. But he said the investigation is his office’s highest priority.

Harrill said his colleagues in the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and other local law enforcement agencies that make up the Northwest Joint Terrorism Task Force, appreciate the leads they have received and renew their request for any information about who may have left a lethal bomb during a thwarted attempt at domestic terrorism. Anyone with information is asked to call the FBI at (206) 622-0460.

The bomb was found in a black Swiss Army brand backpack Monday morning on a metal bench at the northeast corner of Washington Street and Main Avenue. It was along the planned route of the Martin Luther King Jr. march.

Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich, who took part in the march, said his agency has one detective assigned to the terrorism task force and another helping from his criminal intelligence unit.

He said he receives daily briefings from Harrill on the progress of the case.

Knezovich called the attempted bombing an “extreme act of cowardice. And if you are going to do this in our community, we are coming at you with everything we have.”

As a law enforcement officer, he said he understands that he at times will have to put his life in danger.

“But we had schoolchildren with us in the march,” he said. “Our schoolchildren should not be at risk.”

Earlier this week, investigators sent the bomb – which other security sources said could have been detonated by a remote triggering device – to the FBI lab in Quantico, Va.

Harrill has indicated that evidence from that analysis could take several days and may be needed before investigators levy charges against any potential suspects.

“This is an intense, and likely to be a lengthy, investigation,” he said. “Once we make an arrest, it will still be a lengthy investigation. It is very likely to be complex, but we will establish the ground truth.”

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