AUSTIN (KXAN) - A pilot with a grudgeagainst the IRS crashed his plane into the agency's officebuilding in Austin on Thursday, engulfing the four-story buildingin flames in an apparent suicide. The act was meant to callattention to what he viewed as the tax agency's failings.
Andrew Joseph Stack, 53, is presumed to have died in his
One federal employee is still unaccounted for. KXAN hasidentified this person as IRS employee Vernon Hunter of CedarPark. Hunter and his wife both worked at the building asrevenue officers.
Austin Fire Department confirmed Thursday at 8:20 p.m. that twobodies had been found inside the building, but could not confirmtheir identities.
Two others were seriously or critically injured in the attack.Thirteen people were treated for minor injuries. The FBI has set upa 24-hour command post near the scene. They request that anyone with information call210-650-6199.
The plane hit between the second and third floors, striking acar in the lot before it hit the building. The engine landed on afrontage road near the building.
"Like most Americans, I am shocked by the tragic events thattook place in Austin this morning," said IRS Commissioner DougShulman. "This incident is of deep concern to me. We are workingwith law-enforcement agencies to fully investigate the events thatled up to this plane crash."
Investigators are looking at
Stack owned a software company called Embedded Art and postedthe rambling, suicidal manifesto on the site Thursday morning -saying he had had problems with the Internal Revenue Service andthat violence "is the only answer."
One victim is at University Medical Center Brackenridge, whilethe other was sent to Brooke Army Medical Center's burn unit in SanAntonio with second-degree burns on his back. Acevedo said thesituation could have been much worse, but "I can just say that somefolks might have seen this aircraft coming and yelled out somewarning. I believe there were some heroic actions."
The victim at Brackenridge said he's grateful he's alive andthat he wants everyone to know he is OK. He told doctors he justwants to go to church and go home.
PresidentBarack Obama and Homeland Security officials have beennotified, authorities said. Upon hearing of the crash, thePentagon sent two F-16 fighter planes from Houston toinvestigate.
When asked if it was a domestic terror act, Acevedo said, "Ipersonally consider this a criminal act by an individual. You candefine it any way you want."
Congressman Michael McCaul, ranking member of the HomelandSecurity Intelligence Subcomittee disgreed: "It sounds like it tome."
Asked if it would affect any Homeland Security policies, McCaulsaid, "We have to be very careful how we balance that. I thinkit’s an issue Congress needs to look at not only protectingfederal buildings but the American people."
The Georgetown airport, where the plane departed, has beenevacuated and shut down due to the investigation.
A bomb squad was at the airport to investigate a "suspiciouspackage" found there; according to reports at 2:30 p.m. Stack'struck had been found earlier in the day in the airport parking lot,one of the first signs that he'd been involved. The investigationcleared later in the afternoon with nothing unusual reported.
According to FAA reports, the plane departed Georgetown airportnorth of Austin about 9:40 a.m. Stack evidently did not file aflight plan, according to reports. No flight plan was requiredbecause it was a VFR (visual flight rules) day, meaning clearweather.
Witnessesat the scene said that the plane did not appear to be havingengine trouble and hit the building at full speed.
Said witness Jerry Cullen, a former pilot: "It was a reallyspeedy dive. It (hit) between the first and second floors inEchelon III. A gigantic fireball came out about 50 feet wide, thewindows blew out. It was a whoosh, a roar and a boom."
Witness Megan Riley said the plane was flying so low it was nearpower lines. Riley said: "We kind of thought it was somebody jokingaround flying too low trying to scare the co-pilot. It was so lowthat…. It was close enough that you could've seen the guy init."
The IRS and the CIA all have offices in that officecomplex, witnesses say. The Internal Revenue Service has 199employees in the building.
"At this time, we have no reason to believe there is a nexus tocriminal or terrorist activity. We are in the process ofcoordinating with the state officials and other federal partners togather more information, and at this time we will defer additionalquestions to local officials and the FAA," said Matt Chandler ofthe Department of Homeland Security.
The collision shook the entire building, and the entire front ofthe structure is charred. Several witnesses reported they firstthought it was a bomb.
Emergency crews did a roll call on the scene to account forpeople in the building.
Four separate fires burning in the building were contained orput out by 3 p.m.
"All FBI personnel are safe. We are helping local PD and Firedetermine what happened. Nothing to indicate we were targeted,"said Erik Vasys with FBI in San Antonio.
The rampage started around 9 a.m. on Thursday when officialssaid they believe Stack set fire to his home on Dapplegrey Lane,which tax records indicate was worth about $236,000.
The fire, which happened around 9:15 a.m. in the Scofield Farmsneighborhood, destroyed Stack's.
Stack's wife and 12-year-old stepdaughter had moved into a hotelon Wednesday evening after, friends said, Stack went "ballistic"about his IRS problems.
Here's video of that fire from viewer Chuck Watkins:
The Associated Press and CNN contributed to this story.
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