A man accused of dropping more than 30 explosive devices into mailboxes and other locations across east Texas did so out of anger toward the government and was acting alone, federal authorities said Thursday.
Larry Eugene North was indicted Wednesday on charges of possessing an illegal firearm or destructive device. He could face 10 years in prison if convicted.
North is responsible for planting 36 devices between Feb. 5 and Wednesday, said Robert R. Champion, an agent with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Authorities previously said they had found at least 16 explosive devices, including five pipe bombs.
"These devices, over 30 in number, have caused fear in this community nothing short of domestic terrorism," prosecutor Brit Featherston said. "Today that fear stops."
North was arrested after he was identified while placing an explosive in a Tyler mailbox on Wednesday, officials said. Another pipe bomb was found in the van he was driving, Champion said.
No injuries or explosions resulted from the devices. At least half were found in mailboxes, while others were in assorted locations such as the front yard of a business and a cemetery, officials said. The spate of discoveries kept people in east Texas on edge for weeks — especially considering the region recently had been hit by a series of church arsons starting Jan. 1.
North, 52, of Henderson, remained jailed without bond before his initial court appearance Thursday. Court officials didn't know whether he had an attorney yet.
His apparent anger with the government stems from some sort of court dispute, Champion said, but he didn't have any details.
"We know he did not particularly care for the U.S. government," Champion said.
The indictment accuses North of possessing a pipe bomb on or about March 23 — the same day one was found in a mailbox near a woman's home in the small community of Laird Hill, about 115 miles east of Dallas.
The first reports of incendiary devices in mailboxes involved bottles containing flammable liquids and wicks, authorities said. Devices resembling pipe bombs then started turning up, which raised the sense of danger felt by 27-year-old Longview resident Robert Ziemba. One pipe bomb was found in a mailbox on a busy street in Longview.
"With pipe bombs, you never know," Ziemba said. "It could be in your backyard. It could be in your neighbor's backyard. You don't know where it's going to be."
Of the 36 devices planted, the final 10 were pipe bombs, Champion said. He didn't know why there was an escalation. The pipe bombs found Wednesday had a fuse but no timer.
"The ones yesterday we felt were ready to go at any time," Champion said.
Associated Press Writer Linda Stewart Ball in Dallas contributed to this report.
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