FBI Bomb Investigation Stretches From Colville To Lewiston
From north to Colville, to the top of the Parkade in downtown Spokane and down south to Lewiston, federal agents cast a wide net as they chased down clues in the wake of the attempted bombing of the Unity March last Monday.
The Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) has made two trips to the Parkade as part of their investigation into the attempted bombing. The first time investigators went to the parking garage because they thought it might have served as a vantage point from which the would-be bomber may have waited to detonate his improvised explosive device.
It didn't take long for the FBI to realize the top floor of the Parkade, almost 10 stories up, was a potential perch for the bomber.
From that location that individual could keep an eye on the bench where he left his backpack, have a clear view of the Unity March as it made its way down Main Avenue and would have known exactly when to remote detonate his device to maximize the number of casualties he could inflict.
Members of the JTTF hoped the Parkade's surveillance system may have picked up images of the drivers who used the garage Monday morning. Unfortunately, the security department was switching between servers at the time and the video not recorded.
Three days later when KXLY realized the Parkade?s strategic position along the march route, a news crew was photographing the vantage point on the top floor of the parking structure and found several possible clues. On the top floor of the Parkade, 8 cigarette butts were found in the northeast corner overlooking Main Avenue.
Not far away the same news team found a receipt from a Lewiston sporting goods store. The FBI was notified, and they felt the receipt was a significant find because at the store a person could purchase black powder which could be used to power a bomb. That same store also sells ball bearings that could have been used as shrapnel to make that bomb even more lethal.
?If this was an explosive device with shrapnel built into it then it would be particularly lethal, this is anti-personnel, this is meant to maim and kill,? Former Deputy Police Chief Al Odenthal said.
The JTTF took the receipt into their custody and may be tracking down that transaction to see what was purchased. Because a bank card was used in the transaction they could also learn that person?s identity.
In addition to tracking down leads in Lewiston and downtown Spokane, the investigation has taken agents north into Stevens County. Since Monday it?s been known that the Swiss Army backpack contained the explosive device as well as two T-shirts.
One of them was given out at the ?Relay for Life? race at Colville High School in 2010. The American Cancer Society said they made about 300 of those shirts for those that participated.
It was uncovered by KXLY Thursday the second was given out to students who participated in a performance of ?Treasure Island? in the Chewelah School District in March 2009 at Jenkins High School in Chewelah.
Rick Linehan, the superintendent for the Chewelah School District, said one of his teachers made the connection from one the T-shirt's found inside the bomb back pack to their performing arts program. As soon as they realized the connection Linehan said they contacted the FBI right away.
Only about 40 of those shirts were made and were handed out to a small group of people, including Jenkins High School students who participated in the play. According to Linehan, however, that is where the connection between the Chewelah School District and the events of last Monday end.
?None of our kids are suspect,? Linehan said.
Meanwhile Dolores Johnson with the Habitat for Humanity Thrift Store in Colville confirmed they were visited by federal agents Wednesday.
?Well he said he was looking, and they showed us pictures of the T-shirts they were looking for,? Johnson said.
There are only two thrift store in Colville that sell clothes, the Habitat for Humanity thrift store and Goodwill, and both report they were paid a visit by investigators. There is one thrift store in Chewelah but that thrift store said they were not contacted by authorities.
The FBI won't comment on how important the shirts are to their investigation. They would only say they are following up on every lead in the case.
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KXLY4's Jeff Humphrey and Tori Brunetti contributed to this report
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