Destructive package bomb incidents rare, but often end in arrest


Highlights

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The number of suspicious packages investigated in 2016 was 969, down from 1,739 in 2015.

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The number of deaths associated with domestic bombings has fallen from 74 in 2012 to just seven in 2016.

Package bombings that result in death or injury are rare across the country, but — especially recently — nearly always lead to the arrest of a suspect.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ latest Explosives Incident Report, the number of suspicious packages investigated in 2016 was 969, down from 1,739 in 2015. The vast majority of those didn’t result in death or injury. The number of deaths associated with domestic bombings has been falling, according to the ATF, from 74 in 2012 to just seven in 2016.

Before the rash of deadly package bombs hit Austin this month, at least four package or mail bomb incidents that killed or injured victims were reported across the country in the past 18 months. In all but one case — a 2016 package bomb in Philadelphia — authorities have arrested suspects.

These are the high-profile package bomb incidents since 2016:

East Palo Alto, Calif: In December 2017, Oakland resident Ross Gordon Laverty, 56, was charged with mailing a package bomb, made of batteries, copper pipe and fishing line, to a home in East Palo Alto in October that injured a man who opened it. Laverty is also suspected of mailing another bomb to a home in Alameda, Calif., through the United States Postal Service that injured a woman. Laverty was arrested after authorities matched his DNA to material found on a battery in one of the bombs. He faces up to 20 years in prison.

East Chicago, Ind.: In October 2017, Eric Krieg, 45, of northwestern Indiana was arrested and charged with mailing a pipe bomb that exploded and injured a post office employee on Sept. 6, 2017, before it could reach its intended target, a lawyer. Krieg, a petroleum engineer who ran two failed political campaigns and frequently sparred with local elected officials, is suspected of mailing another suspicious package on Sept. 29.

Queens, N.Y.: In August 2017, a landlord died four days after suffering severe burns when he opened a package left on the steps of one of his properties. Police initially said the package, a foot-long cardboard tube filled with flash powder, was meant for a gang member who lived in the home. In February, police arrested Victor Kingsley, 37, in connection with the explosion, saying Kingsley was actually targeting a police officer who he thought lived in the duplex and who had arrested Kingsley in 2014.

Philadelphia: In November 2016, a Philadelphia man lost parts of his fingers and was hit by shrapnel when a package bomb exploded at his home. Security cameras caught the suspect carrying the bomb in a shoulder bag to Jim Alden’s home and dropping it off. But as of November, police hadn’t made an arrest in the case, according to local media.

Fort Worth: In November, Julia Poff, 46, was indicted on charges of mailing homemade bombs to Gov. Greg Abbott and then-President Barack Obama in 2016. The package sent to Abbott, which didn’t explode when he opened it, contained a cellphone, a cigarette packet connected to a fuse, powder and a salad dressing cap. A package meant for the former president was detected during the screening process, and a cat hair found under the address label allowed FBI agents to connect her to the case.