FBI Says Bombing Of Naacp Just A Start -- Suspects Planned Racial Rampage, Court Papers Allege
Jeremy Knesal and Mark Kowaalski drove to the NAACP office in Tacoma's Hilltop area around 10 p.m. on July 20 and cut a hole in the chain-link fence surrounding the old storefront, according to an FBI affidavit filed in U.S. District Court in San Jose, Calif.
Kowaalski hurled a pipe bomb that had been built by Knesal, the court document alleges. The bomb crashed through the window, rolled to a back wall and partially detonated, blasting six holes in the wall and leaving chunks of sheetrock and shards of glass on the floor.
They were just getting started, the affidavit alleges.
Two days later, Knesal, Kowaalski, Wayne Wooten and Wooten's sister piled into Knesal's 1987 blue Volvo and hit the road, intent on executing a plan fueled by white-supremacy beliefs that called for the bombing of synagogues and military installations and the killing of rap stars and radio and TV personalities, according to the affidavit filed by FBI Special Agent John Zent Jr.
The plan was a "conspiracy to commit racially directed bombings and murders in Washington and Oregon and along the U.S.-Canadian border," the affidavit says. Named specifically as targets were Los Angeles-based rap stars Ice-T and Ice Cube.
The allegations are the basis for a civil-rights investigation being conducted by the FBI and U.S. Department of Justice and were revealed in court documents unsealed yesterday.
It's possible none of their plans would have come to light if Knesal had not been arrested Monday in Salinas, Calif., on suspicion of trying to steal $84 worth of clothing.
Being held by U.S. marshals are:
-- Mark Frank Kowaalski, 23, a Miami native who recently moved to Auburn after being paroled from a New Mexico prison after serving one year for a conviction of assault with a deadly weapon;
-- Jeremiah Gordon Knesal, 19, a longtime SeaTac resident who recently had been living with Kowaalski in Auburn and was convicted last year of malicious harassment for hitting a Hispanic man with a stick during a SeaTac party;
-- Wayne Paul Wooten, 18, of Tacoma, who is the son of Lt. Paul Wooten of the Tacoma Police Department and was convicted of cruelty to animals last year for killing a stray cat by beating its head against a newspaper vending machine.
Kowaalski is charged with producing, possessing/transporting pipe bombs, and with the Tacoma NAACP bombing. Knesal and Wooten are charged with three counts involving the making, possession and transportation of pipe bombs. They each face 10 years in prison and fines of $250,000 for each of the three counts, if convicted, said U.S. Attorney Lee Altschuler.
Knesal's and Wooten's roles in the Tacoma bombing are part of the civil-rights investigation, which could lead to more arrests in a plan that also might have called for violence against homosexuals, said Rick Smith of the FBI's San Francisco office.
Knesal claimed Kowaalski, who has been using the alias of Mark Stevenson, instructed him and as many as five others to make bombs and accumulate weapons in preparation to execute the plan, the FBI said.
A fourth man, a roommate of Knesal and Kowaalski, also had knowledge of the plan, according to the affidavit. Seattle FBI spokesman Dick Thurston declined to say whether he is being sought in the case.
Found at the Auburn apartment by the FBI was:
-- A pipe bomb made by Knesal and other bomb materials such as pipes, fuses and ignitable powders;
-- Notes and documents detailing plans for violence, and literature and membership lists of white-supremacy groups;
-- Guns, silencers, false identification and blank birth certificates.
Knesal told FBI agents that, a day after reaching Portland, he and the Wootens "became afraid of committing further acts of violence" and separated from Kowaalski. Knesal and Wayne Wooten continued to Salinas. FBI agents, who say they think Wooten's sister had knowledge of the plan, didn't say where she went and have not charged her.
Knesal and Wayne Wooten were arrested Monday in Salinas after Knesal allegedly was seen shoplifting from a J.C. Penney's, said the FBI.
In his car, Salinas police found:
-- Three pipe bombs, four military rifles, ammunition and rapelling gear;
-- A torn-out piece of a telephone book listing various Jewish agencies and synagogues in the Portland area;
-- Fake identification, wigs and to-do lists, including one that read "get wigs" and "type certificates;"
-- A fax machine, electric typewriter and pictures of Knesal giving Nazi salutes (Thurston said the FBI was unaware whether any of the suspects were responsible for faxes that have been turning up at King County courthouses the past six to eight weeks. The faxes espouse white-supremacy views and accuse some judges of showing preference toward African Americans and Jews.);
-- White-supremacy literature linking Knesal to both the Federal Way chapter of the American Front, a skinhead group based in Portland, and the Church of the Creator.
Knesal called himself "state director" of the Church of the Creator, a group based in Niceville, Fla., that has been linked to the alleged plot to start a race war by killing Rodney King and prominent African-American leaders in Los Angeles.
This has come to light during a three-week period in which acts of violence have been committed against three NAACP offices: an early July fire in San Francisco, the Tacoma bombing and a firebombing earlier this week in Sacramento.
John Covert, acting special agent in charge of the FBI's San Francisco office, said: "We do not have any physical evidence at this time indicating they are linked . . . but we're very concerned about the sequence of events in the past few months."
Staff reporter Peter Lewis contributed to this story.
Published Correction Date: 07/31/93 - This Story Incorrectly Listed A Pipe Bomb And Gun Silencers Among The Things The FBI Found In An Auburn Apartment Raided In Connection With The Bombing Of An Naacp Office.
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