Joe Stack's Letter Explaining Martyrdom
Joe Stack - mad as hell and not going to take it anymore. The Smoking Gun has Stack's complete letter.
Two bodies found in IRS building hit by plane
Two bodies found in IRS building hit by plane
By Jim Vertuno
The Associated Press
Posted: 02/19/2010 01:00:00 AM MST
Updated: 02/19/2010 03:29:09 AM MST
Smoke billows from a seven-story IRS office building in Austin, Texas, after an angry pilot crashed his small plane into it Thursday. About 190 IRS workers were in the building. (Associated Press)
* Feb 18:
* Stack's letter on Internet reveals anger at IRS
* Man angry at IRS crashes plane into Austin building
* Small plane crashes into building in Austin housing IRS
AUSTIN, Texas — A software engineer furious with the Internal Revenue Service launched a suicide attack on the agency Thursday by crashing his small plane into an office building containing nearly 200 IRS employees, setting off a raging fire that sent workers running for their lives.
Emergency crews recovered two bodies. The pilot was presumed dead, and one worker in the building had been missing. Austin Fire Department Battalion Chief Palmer Buck declined to discuss the identities of those found but said Thursday night that authorities had "accounted for everybody."
The FBI tentatively identified the pilot as Joseph A. Stack, 53. Law enforcement officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because the investigation
* View images from the Austin plane crash.
* Watch a video report from Austin.
* Examine an AP interactive graphic that details the events of the plane crash in Austin.
was still going on, said that before taking off, Stack apparently set fire to his house and posted a long anti-government screed on the Web. It was dated Thursday and signed "Joe Stack (1956-2010)." In it, the author cited run-ins he had with the IRS and ranted about the tax agency, government bailouts and corporate America's "thugs and plunderers."
"I have had all I can stand," he wrote, adding: "I choose not to keep looking over my shoulder at 'big brother' while he strips my carcass."
The pilot took off in a four-seat, single-engine Piper PA-28 from an airport in Georgetown, about 30 miles from Austin. He flew low over Austin before plowing into the side of the seven-story, black-glass building just before 10 a.m. with a thunderous explosion.
Flames shot from the building, windows exploded, a huge pillar of black smoke rose over the city, and terrified workers rushed to get out.
Fighter jets scrambled
The Pentagon scrambled two F-16 fighter jets from Houston to patrol the skies over the burning building before it became clear that it was the act of a lone pilot, and President Barack Obama was briefed.
"It felt like a bomb blew off," said Peggy Walker, an IRS revenue officer.
The pilot, Joseph A. Stack, 53, is believed to be one of two killed. Stack, above, ranted on the Web about his troubles with the agency. (Associated Press)
"The ceiling caved in and windows blew in. We got up and ran."
At least 13 people were injured, with two reported in critical condition. About 190 IRS employees work in the building.
Sitting at her desk in another building a half-mile from the crash, Michelle Santibanez felt the vibrations and ran to the windows, where she and her co-workers witnessed a scene that reminded them of 9/11.
"It was the same kind of scenario, with window panels falling out and desks falling out and paperwork flying," said Santibanez, an accountant.
The building was still smoldering six hours later, with the worst of the damage on the second and third floors.
Andrew Jacobson, an IRS revenue officer who was on the second floor, said about six people couldn't use the stairwell because of smoke and debris. He found a metal bar to break a window so the group could crawl out onto a concrete ledge, where they were rescued by firefighters. His bloody hands were bandaged.
Acevedo said "heroic actions" by federal employees may explain why the death toll was so low.
The FBI was investigating. The National Transportation Safety Board sent an investigator as well.
In the long, rambling, self-described "rant" that Stack apparently posted on the Internet, he began: "If you're reading this, you're no doubt asking yourself, 'Why did this have to happen?' "
Clashes with IRS
He recounted his financial reverses, his difficulty finding work in Austin, and at least two clashes with the IRS, one of them after he filed no return because, he said, he had no income, the other after he failed to report his wife Sheryl's income.
He railed against politicians, the Catholic Church, the "unthinkable atrocities" committed by big business, and the government bailouts that followed. He said he slowly came to the conclusion that "violence not only is the answer, it is the only answer."
"I saw it written once that the definition of insanity is repeating the same process over and over and expecting the outcome to suddenly be different. I am finally ready to stop this insanity. Well, Mr. Big Brother IRS man, let's try something different; take my pound of flesh and sleep well," he wrote.
According to California state records, Stack had a troubled business history, twice starting software companies in California that ultimately were suspended by the state's tax board, one in 2000, the other in 2004. Also, his first wife filed for bankruptcy in 1999, listing a debt to the IRS of nearly $126,000.
The blaze at Stack's home, a red-brick house on a tree-lined street in a middle-class neighborhood 6 miles from the crash site, caved in the roof and blew out the windows.
Elbert Hutchins, who lives one house away, said the house caught fire about 9:15 a.m. He said a woman and her daughter drove up to the house before firefighters arrived.
"They both were very, very distraught," said Hutchins, a retiree who said he didn't know the family well.