Tags: Student | Suspected | Pipe | Bombs

Student Suspected in Pipe Bombs

Tuesday, 07 May 2002 12:00 AM

A description of Luke John Helder was released by the FBI after the latest pipe bomb was found in a stand-alone mailbox in a residential area of Amarillo, a city of nearly 158,000 in the Texas Panhandle. The device was similar to the others, the FBI said.

"He is definitely a key suspect," said Peter Freitag, an FBI supervisor in Wisconsin.

Helder was described as 5 feet 9 inches tall, 150 pounds, with brown hair and green eyes. A Minnesota resident attending college in Wisconsin, he is believed to be driving a 1992 Honda four-door sedan, black or dark gray, with Minnesota license plate EZL-873. "He has been described as an intelligent young man with strong family ties," said James Bogner, special agent in charge of the FBI office in Omaha, Neb., where the pipe bomb investigation is based.

"At this stage we need to talk to Luke Helder, and we need to try to resolve this aspect of the investigation," the FBI agent said.

Helder is a junior at the University of Wisconsin-Stout in Menomonie majoring in art with an industrial design concentration, the college's executive director, John K. Enger, confirmed. He said that the FBI called the school Tuesday morning about Helder, and that investigators have questioned the suspect's roommates.

At Helder's family's home an hour's drive southeast of Minneapolis, his father, Cameron, read a statement urging his son to call home.

"I really want you to know that Luke is not a dangerous person," Cameron Helder said. "I think he's just trying to make a statement about the way our government is run. I think Luke wants people to listen to his ideas, and not enough people are hearing him, and he thinks this may help.

"Luke, you need to talk to someone. Please don't hurt anyone else. It's time to talk. You have the attention you wanted. Luke, we love you very much. We want you home safe."

The suspect played guitar and sang in a punk rock band called Apathy.

On a Web site for the band, two songs were posted, "Conformity" and "Back and Black," but the lyrics were unintelligible.

The issue of conformity is a theme in the anti-government notes, which say, in part: "To 'live' (avoid death) in this society you are forced to conform/slave away. I'm here to help you realize/ understand that you will live no matter what!"

Helder has not been charged with any crime. The FBI did not disclose how it connected him to the pipe bombs. He is presumed to be armed and dangerous for reasons of public safety, but, Bogner said, "I have no indication that he has a gun."

Asked where Helder might be, Bogner said the path of the bomb drops through northwest Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado and Texas is an indication.

"We think he may be located in that part of the country," he said.

Postal workers and customers in western Texas were warned Tuesday to be careful in checking mailboxes. Most of the bombs have been discovered in rural areas, but the Amarillo bomb was found Monday in a residential neighborhood.

Robert Martinez discovered the device inside a plastic bag when he checked his mailbox. He called authorities. The device was disarmed, and no one was injured. The FBI said it was similar to the bombs found in the four other states.

Kenny Smith, a Postal Service spokesman, warned west Texans and postal workers to be careful about opening mail boxes.

"If you find something in your mail box, leave the door open and get away from it as quickly as possible," he said. "Don't handle it, and contact law enforcement."

Another pipe bomb was discovered Monday in a plastic Ziploc sandwich bag in a rural mailbox at Salida, Colo., 140 miles southwest of Denver. The south-central Colorado town of 4,700 is about 325 miles north of Amarillo.

The device was consistent with other ones found, the FBI said. The bombs were described as 6-inch-long, 3/4-inch galvanized steel pipes filled with black powder and attached to a 9-volt battery.

Six people were injured by the bombs in Iowa and Illinois on Friday.

Copyright 2002 by United Press International.

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A description of Luke John Helder was released by the FBI after the latest pipe bomb was found in a stand-alone mailbox in a residential area of Amarillo, a city of nearly 158,000 in the Texas Panhandle. The device was similar to the others, the FBI said. He is...
Student,Suspected,Pipe,Bombs
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2002-00-07
Tuesday, 07 May 2002 12:00 AM
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