SPOKANE, Wash. - The word spread like wildfire in the small town of Kettle Falls near the Canadian border Wednesday that Kevin Harpham, a former resident who still has family in the area, had been arrested for the attempted bombing of the Jan. 17 Unity March in Spokane.
Kettle Falls City Planner Dave Keeley said news spread quickly that a local man was arrested in connection with the failed bombing in downtown Spokane on Martin Luther King Jr.?s birthday.
?I'm sure by tomorrow it will be the talk of the town,? Keeley said.
Harpham, 36, lived in Kettle Falls with his family and went to school at Kettle Falls High School through his junior year.
A teacher at Kettle Falls High School said he taught Harpham?s freshman science class and remembered him as a normal teenager and a good student.
At some point after high school, Harpham enlisted in the Army. Between 1996 and 1999, Harpham, according to public records, was stationed at Ft. Lewis and served with Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 1-37 Field Artillery. Late Wednesday afternoon, the public affairs office at Joint Base Lewis McChord released the following one-paragraph statement:
"We have been informed by the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, Mo., that Kevin William Harphan served at Fort Lewis from June 1996 to February 1999 as a fire support specialist in the 1st Battalion, 37th Field Artillery Regiment. Additional information about his service record would have to be obtained from National Personnel Records Center."
There are no details available at this point as to how long he served in the military, what he did while he was in the service, and whether or not he was discharged from the military under honorable conditions.
While Harpham had a home in Addy, his father Cecil still lives a couple miles outside of Kettle Falls. Investigators spent most of the day at his house. When contacted Wednesday morning, Cecil Harpham said he wanted to make this all stop.
Kettle Falls native Kellee Haynes said she wasn?t shocked to hear that someone from her hometown had been behind the bombing attempt.
?I?m not surprised. It?s remote here. It?s isolated. People can do what they want. They can go up in the hills and you'd not know they were doing things,? Haynes said.
The Southern Poverty Law Center has confirmed that Harpham, in 2004, was also a member of the National Alliance, a hate group created by William Price, the author of ?The Turner Diaries.? That book has been widely identified as the inspiration for Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh.
Erich Gliebe, the acting chairman of the National Alliance, contradicted the Southern Poverty Law Center's claims. Gliebe said he has been a member of the National Alliance since 1990 and didn't recognize Harpham's name. Gliebe added that the National Alliance, "has a zero tolerance policy regarding illegal activity. Anyone who even hints or jokes about illegal activity is not welcome in the organization."
Paul Mullet, the former self-proclaimed leader of the Aryan Nations , said that Harpham expressed interest in joining the Aryan Nations back in the mid-2000s. Mullet said Wednesday afternoon that he had about a dozen conversations with Harpham after he contacted him for information on joining the Aryan Nations. Mullet said that Harpham never joined the group.
Kettle Falls residents, like Dave Keeley and Kellee Haynes, now say they hope their little town of 1,640 people isn?t stereotyped because of the alleged actions of one former resident.
?They're everywhere,? Haynes said. ?You can?t just say its here.?
?Kettle Falls isn?t like that. It?s a warm, friendly town, and it?s a welcoming town, a good place to raise your kids,? Keeley said.
KXLY4's Sally Showman and Erik Loney contributed to this report
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