January 27, 2011 in City

Sheriff critical; S-R stands behind story

Knezovich confirms bomb contained chemical, objects to rat poison reference
By The Spokesman-Review
 

Knezovich
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Background and the latest updates

Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich confirmed Wednesday for the second time in two days that chemicals were mixed with shrapnel in a bomb that was placed along the Unity March route in downtown Spokane on Jan. 17.

The sheriff has criticized a front-page story published in the Wednesday edition of The Spokesman-Review, but stopped short of seeking a correction.

Knezovich told newspaper editors Wednesday that he did not confirm that the chemical – being analyzed by the FBI – may be a compound commonly found in rat poison.

On Tuesday night, reporter Thomas Clouse asked Knezovich if rat poison was the chemical used in the bomb. The sheriff replied: “There was some discussion early on on that, but I’m not sure that that actually played out.”

In the meeting with editors including Editor Gary Graham, Knezovich said he also told the reporter Tuesday night: “This sheriff does not know what’s inside that. This sheriff told your reporter just that: Tom, be very careful about this story. If you want to run it, you need to run it with a big ‘if.’

“I don’t know how many times I stressed that: ‘If.’ If that were the case. I said we don’t know what kind of chemical is in there. We don’t know. We don’t know if it’s dangerous. We don’t know what it is.”

The story Wednesday quoted Knezovich as saying, “I know the bomb had some kind of chemical material inside, but we are still trying to figure out what kind. All we know there is a substance.”

It continued, “Knezovich said early talks indicated the chemical could have been a compound used in common rat poison.”

Graham said the newspaper stands behind its story.

“Our story made it abundantly clear that tests are being conducted to determine the type of chemical used,” Graham said.

“The story we published Wednesday accurately quoted the sheriff as saying the bomb had some kind of chemical material inside. In our two discussions with the sheriff on Wednesday, he agreed that we quoted him accurately on that point.

“The real issue is the facts themselves, and we remain confident that we had the story right. One of our reporter’s confidential law enforcement sources said Wednesday that indeed the story was correct.”

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