Thursday, February 18, 2010

Austin Echelon Building Hit by Plane - Employee: "It felt like a bomb..."

Update (9:00 p.m. CST): Two bodies have been recovered. No identities released, but it's assumed that one is Stack's. The other is likely the missing, unidentified employee. Two other employees were taken to the hospital in unspecified conditions, but said to be suffering from burns and smoke inhalation. Eleven others were treated for minor injuries.

Update (6:00 p.m. CST): Stack's six-page letter has been removed from his site at the request of the FBI. An archive of the letter is at The Smoking Gun here.

Austin, Texas: The Echelon building in Austin was stuck by a single engine plane. Joe Stack, the named pilot, left a rambling, anti-government manifesto which said, "Well Mr. Big Brother IRS man...take my pound of flesh and sleep well." He left his name and the dates (1956-2010) and today's date at the end.

One IRS employee described the crash. "It felt like a bomb blew off. The ceiling caved in and windows blew in. We got up and ran." Others related that the plane was flying just above the treeline and accelerated, hitting the building deliberately.

Stack was a contract software engineer who had a vendetta against the IRS. Reading through his sprawling statement, it is difficult to understand exactly what happened, but it becomes obvious that he felt personally persecuted for decades. His statement goes back to the 1980s and his complaints run the gambit from the IRS to Arthur Andersen, Enron, GM Executives, Senator Patrick Moynihan and President Bush.

Between the lines, however, it sounds like Mr. Stack blamed a lot of his own problems on the government and others.
"Instead I got busy working 100-hour workweeks. Then came the L.A. depression of the early 1990s. Our leaders decided that they didn’t need the all of those extra Air Force bases they had in Southern California, so they were closed; just like that. The result was economic devastation in the region that rivaled the widely publicized Texas S&L fiasco. However, because the government caused it, no one gave a shit about all of the young families who lost their homes or street after street of boarded up houses abandoned to the wealthy loan companies who received government funds to “shore up” their windfall. Again, I lost my retirement."
Some time after 911, he moves from California to Austin, but complained he had a hard time finding work and that the pay was low.
"To survive, I was forced to cannibalize my savings and retirement, the last of which was a small IRA. This came in a year with mammoth expenses and not a single dollar of income. I filed no return that year thinking that because I didn’t have any income there was no need. The sleazy government decided that they disagreed. But they didn’t notify me in time for me to launch a legal objection so when I attempted to get a protest filed with the court I was told I was no longer entitled to due process because the time to file ran out. Bend over for another $10,000 helping of justice."
For all his complaints regarding money, Stack was a licensed pilot and the owner of the single-engine aircraft that he ran into the building. Early reports that the plane might have been stolen, were incorrect. There is no official word if his body has been found.

Earlier, this morning, Stack also set fire to his house with his wife and daughter inside. A neighbor saw the flames and helped get the mother and daughter out unharmed.

At the end of his diatribe, Stack wrote:
"The communist creed: From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.

The capitalist creed: From each according to his gullibility, to each according to his greed."

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