By JIM VERTUNO
Associated Press Writer
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - A pilot furious with the Internal Revenue
Service crashed his small plane into an office building that houses
federal tax employees in Austin, Texas on Thursday, setting off a
raging fire that sent workers fleeing as thick plumes of black
smoke poured into the air.
A U.S. law official identified the pilot as Joseph Stack and
said investigators were looking at an anti-government message on
the Web linked to him. The Web site outlines problems with the IRS
and says violence "is the only answer."
Federal law enforcement officials have said they were
investigating whether the pilot crashed on purpose in an effort to
blow up IRS offices. The Web site featured a long note dated
Thursday denouncing the government and the IRS in particular and
cited the Austin man's problems with the agency.
All the officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the
investigation is continuing.
At least one person who worked in the building was unaccounted
for and two people were hospitalized, said Austin Fire Department
Division Chief Dawn Clopton. She did not have any information about
the pilot. About 190 IRS employees work in the building, and IRS
spokesman Richard C. Sanford the agency is trying to account for
Flames shot out of the building, windows exploded and workers
scrambled to safety after the blast. Thick smoke billowed out of
the second and third stories hours later as fire crews battled the
"It felt like a bomb blew off," said Peggy Walker, an IRS
revenue officer who was sitting at her desk in the building when
the plane crashed. "The ceiling caved in and windows blew in. We
got up and ran."
Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Lynn Lunsford
initially said the plane was identified as a Cirrus SR22, but later
said it might be a Piper Cherokee.
"It's so destroyed that it's hard to identify," Lunsford said.
He said FAA has confirmed that the plane that took off from an
airport in Georgetown, Texas, and that the pilot didn't file a
In a neighborhood about six miles from the crash site, a home
listed as belonging to Stack was on fire earlier Thursday.
Authorities in Austin would not comment on the house fire Thursday
Associated Press writers April Castro and Jay Root in Austin and
Devlin Barrett, Lolita C. Baldor and Joan Lowy in Washington
contributed to this report.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)