String of Pipe Bombs Planted By Suspect Who Was Angry At Government

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A Texas man has been indicted on charges relating to a series of pipe bombs and other incendiary devices, which he allegedly placed in mailboxes and other locations around east Texas.

Larry Eugene North, 52, is said to have planted 36 separate explosive devices since early February. According to an agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, North had a gripe with the federal government, stemming from a court case, and was acting alone.

Authorities were investigating a string of church fires, which were later linked to two arsonists, when they first discovered an incendiary device on February 5. They have since ruled out any connection between the arson spree and North’s activities.

North was under surveillance for about a week before his arrest on Wednesday, which occurred while he was attempting to place a bomb in a mailbox in Tyler, Texas. His van contained another pipe bomb, and the materials used to construct bombs were found in his home. At least half of the bombs which North planted were in mailboxes, with others in various locations such as a cemetery and the front lawn of a business.

The indictment charges North with possession of an illegal firearm or destructive device, a charge which carries a potential 10-year prison sentence. Authorities are evaluating whether other charges will be brought against North as well.

Of the 36 explosive devices, many were simple bombs—bottles containing flammable liquids and wicks. Later, the nature of the devices became more sophisticated, escalating to pipe bombs, which accounted for the final 10 explosives. The pipe bombs which were found on Wednesday had a fuse, but no timer. Although none of the devices actually detonated, their discoveries have kept local residents skittish for several weeks.

North, who is from Henderson, Texas, remains in custody after appearing at a federal court hearing on Thursday. At that hearing, U.S. Magistrate Judge John Love granted defense attorney Ken Hawk’s request for a mental competency exam for the accused.

“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.”

 

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