Bomb attempt at MLK march
A backpack, containing a bomb capable of “multiple casualties,” was discovered Jan. 17, 2011, in downtown Spokane.
Public facilities district workers reported the package at 9:26 a.m., just before the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Unity March was set to begin. Investigators received numerous photos and video taken that day of the area around Washington Street and Main Avenue.
The FBI confirmed the next day that the Swiss Army-brand backpack contained a bomb that could have caused “multiple casualties” and credited Spokane city employees who noticed the suspicious bag and alerted authorities in time to re-route the parade. Chemicals were mixed with shrapnel in what law enforcement officials say was a weapon designed to inflict maximum injuries.
Federal agents arrested Kevin W. Harpham, an ex-soldier with ties to the white supremacist movement, on Wednesday, March 9.
A federal grand jury returned an indictment against Harpham on March 22, 2011, officially charging him with placing the bomb. Harpham, 36, was charged with attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and possession of an unregistered explosive device. He initially pleaded not guilty.
In a plea deal made Sept. 7, 2011, he pleaded guilty to attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and attempting to cause bodily injury with an explosive device with a racist motive.
Three Spokane police sergeants were honored for their efforts to quickly divert thousands of marchers to a new route and for their other work that day. Officials lauded Jason Hartman, Chuck Reisenauer and Eric Olsen as heroes for their work and gave them a standing ovation at a City Council meeting Jan. 24.
After an unsuccessful attempt by Harpham to withdraw his guilty plea, U.S. District Court Judge Justin Quackenbush sentenced Harpham to 32 years in prison on Dec. 19, 2011.
By content type
Latest updates in this topic
New details emerge on MLK bomb
March 16, 2011 in City A “Joint Intelligence Bulletin” issued on the day federal agents raided the Colville home of Kevin W. Harpham suggests that the bomb may have included a rocket motor igniter and … 17
Father of bomb suspect says son couldn’t have planted device
March 14, 2011 in City on Page A6 The father of the man arrested in connection with a bomb discovered at Spokane’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day march claims his son was caring for him throughout January and …
Postings reveal bomb suspect’s views
March 13, 2011 in City on Page A1 He grew up in rural Eastern Washington, played football in high school and worked at a fast-food restaurant as a teen. Childhood friends remember him as quiet and normal – … 3
Bomb suspect may have fantasized about race wars
White supremacist arrested in MLK bomb plot
March 10, 2011 in City on Page A1 Kevin William Harpham bought 10 acres of land on a Stevens County hillside south of Colville and built a home a neighbor said he’d long planned. On Wednesday, dozens of … 11
Suspect in MLK bomb tied to racist movement
March 9, 2011 in City Federal agents today arrested an ex-soldier with ties to the white supremacist movement and charged him with planting the backpack bomb along the planned route of the Martin Luther King … 107
Photo: Hearts, not hate
Feb. 15, 2011 in City on Page A6 Message received: Phil Smith, 59, of Spokane, holds a Valentine’s Day card he picked up from the bench at the corner of Main Avenue and Washington Street on Monday. An … 7
Jesse Jackson: MLK bomb planter ‘more sick than mean’
Governor, at Spokane City Hall, briefed on bomb investigation
Jan. 29, 2011 in City on Page A6 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 …
Gregoire comes to Spokane for bomb briefing
Jan. 28, 2011 in City 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 … 13
Sheriff critical; S-R stands behind story
Jan. 27, 2011 in City on Page A1 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 … 30
Editors stand by S-R bomb story
Jan. 26, 2011 in City 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 … 30
King Day bomb had chemical component
Jan. 26, 2011 in City on Page A1 A bomb maker mixed chemicals with shrapnel in what law enforcement officials say was a weapon designed to inflict maximum injuries during last week’s Martin Luther King Jr. march in … 15
MLK bomb laced with chemical, sources say
Jan. 25, 2011 in City A bomb maker mixed chemicals with shrapnel in what law enforcement officials say was a weapon designed to inflict maximum injuries during last week’s Martin Luther King Jr. march in … 8
Policemen honored for response to bomb scare
Move on without fear, region’s leaders urge
Jan. 23, 2011 in City on Page A6 While political and religious leaders interviewed last week denounced the bombing attempt along the route of Spokane’s annual march honoring Martin Luther King Jr., they shared a range of opinions … 3
Aryan Nations denies role in downtown bomb placement
Jan. 23, 2011 in City on Page B7 A leader of the Aryan Nations on Saturday issued a statement denying involvement with a bomb left at Spokane’s Martin Luther King Jr. Unity March on Monday. Morris Gullett, a … 1
Human rights dialogue revs up
Jan. 23, 2011 in City on Page A1 After racist literature was distributed throughout the region in 2009, a North Idaho anti-racism group mobilized leaders in Kootenai and Spokane counties to send a message at a news conference … 5
Agents gaining ‘clarity’ on Spokane bomb
Jan. 22, 2011 in City on Page A1 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 … 13
FBI says it has ‘clarity’ in MLK bomb case
Jan. 21, 2011 in City Federal investigators indicated today 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 … 2