Crude bombs explode in western Colorado city; no injuries
DENVER (AP) ” At least three crude bombs exploded today and two more were disarmed outside homes of workers for a Federal Aviation Administration contractor in Grand Junction, prompting the evacuation of the air traffic control tower at the city airport and a manhunt involving dozens of officers.
Police reached out to the community for help in finding the person of interest in the case, who was a former employee of Serco Group Plc., the company that staffed the tower at Walker Field Airport.
No injuries were reported and there were no delays at the airport.
The bombs were placed at homes of people who work for Serco, said Steve Christmas, vice president for aviation operations for the company.
The air traffic control tower in Grand Junction is operated by Serco, a major FAA subcontractor, FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown said.
Denver controllers handled air traffic for Grand Junction for about an hour until controllers were able to return to the tower there, Brown said. Carrie Harmon, a spokeswoman for the Transportation Security Administration in Denver, said a security sweep was conducted at the airport.
“There is no known link to aviation at this time and we are doing this out of an abundance of caution,” she said.
Police asked residents to help them find Robert L. Burke, 54, who may have been driving a maroon 1999 Chevrolet Astro van, with Colorado license plate 794CYB.
Christmas confirmed Burke was a former Serco employee.
He declined to comment on a newspaper report that a disgruntled ex-employee was responsible for the bombs.
“I don’t think it is fair for me to get into specifics at this time. They are looking at all those types of situations that may have had an affect,” he said.
He said his company was offering assistance to the targeted employees, including offering them the opportunity to spend the night somewhere else.
The bombs prompted warnings from authorities as they fanned out across this western Colorado city of 45,000 looking for suspects and more devices.
“It could have killed my family,” said Richard Smith, whose house received minor damage. “It was a little scary but it happened at 4:30 in the morning” and everyone was inside.
He said he didn’t want to talk about who might have done it but “I am sure he is going to kill himself.” Smith would not elaborate.
Police Sgt. Paul Quimby said officers from the police department, sheriff’s office and fire stations searched for clues.
“We are concerned there are others (bombs) out there that no one has discovered yet,” Quimby said.
Quimby declined to comment on a report in the Daily Sentinel of Grand Junction that the bombs were contained in black, office-style trash cans covered in silver duct tape.
Tim Ricciardi, whose house was among those hit, told the Sentinel he suspects one of the bombers made threats to co-workers last year after being fired from his job.
Quimby said it was too soon to speculate who set the bombs, but he said homes didn’t seem to be a likely target for terrorists.
“This would be very doable by kids with the Internet and a little ingenuity,” he said. “We are trying to chase down several leads to make some sense out of this.”
Quimby said they resembled an incendiary device rather than a bomb; one explosion scorched the front of a garage door and melted the vinyl siding.
A supervisory agent and three certified explosives specialists from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms were heading to the scene from Denver, ATF spokeswoman Sheree Mixell said. Canine teams were on standby, she said.
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