After meeting with investigators and city leaders Friday at Spokane City Hall, Gov. Chris Gregoire commended the three contract workers who spotted the lethal backpack bomb along the Martin Luther King Jr. Day march route nearly two weeks ago.
“Their actions were swift and helped prevent a tragedy,” Gregoire said in a written statement. “From the law enforcement to the firefighters to the bomb squad, everyone deserves high marks for acting with the utmost professionalism.”
Gregoire flew to Spokane on Friday and was briefed on the investigation into the chemical-laced bomb during a closed-door meeting with federal agents and local leaders, including Mayor Mary Verner, police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick, Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich, fire Chief Bobby Williams, and state Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown, D-Spokane.
Gregoire’s statement described the meeting as “productive.”
Verner and Knezovich said no new information was presented at the briefing, which lasted about 30 minutes. Gregoire left without speaking to the media.
Verner said Gregoire has known of the bomb since the day it was discovered and has been in contact with local authorities. Friday was her first chance to meet with investigators. Verner said Gregoire pledged her support to investigators and offered to make resources available.
“She’s very concerned about Spokane,” Verner said. “The governor and other elected officials were pleased to hear that our response in the city of Spokane was exemplary.”
The FBI is offering a $20,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest and conviction in the case, which began when the workers hired by the Public Facilities District spotted wires protruding from a Swiss Army backpack on a bench along the scheduled route of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day march on Jan. 17. The parade was rerouted and the device was sent for testing to the FBI laboratory in Quantico, Va.
Officials said the bomb, found at the northeast corner of Washington Street and Main Avenue, was placed to concentrate the blast toward the marchers and could have killed several people.
In her statement, Gregoire said the incident is “a good reminder for all people to stay alert, and to report suspicious items and anything out of the ordinary.”