A bombing outside a local NAACP office in Colorado Springs, Colorado, on Tuesday has raised fears that the attack may have been a racially motivated hate crime, and yet another in a long succession of right-wing domestic terror attacks, dating back at least to the bombing if a federal building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, in 1995.
Agents from the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force as well as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were on the scene soon after what they called an “improvised explosive device” went off in front of the building at 603 S. El Paso St. in Colorado Springs, where the local NAACP office is located, at about 11 a.m. Tuesday.
The FBI said that to term the bombing a hate crime would be premature without further evidence. While they have not said they have a suspect, the FBI said in a statement that they are looking for a specific person to question about the bombing, which shook and charred the wall of the building, knocking some items inside to the floor, but caused no reported injuries.
The explosive device was ignited next to a can of gasoline that had been placed there, in an apparent effort to intensify the blast and cause a fire. But the gasoline did not catch fire or explode.
“The ‘potential person of interest’ sought by the FBI is described by agents as ‘a Caucasian male, approximately 40 years of age, and balding. He may be driving a 2000 or older model dirty, white pick-up truck with paneling, a dark colored bed liner, open tailgate, and a missing or covered license plate.'”
“Some neighbors came out and said they saw a Caucasian gentleman get into a white truck,” neighbor Gene Southerland, owner of a barbershop in the same building as the NAACP office, told The Colorado Springs Gazette. “It was such a beautiful day and everything, sunny. And in broad daylight, you hear this explosion. It’s frightening.”
While the perpetrator of the bombing and the motives behind it remain undetermined, 2014 saw a number of high-profile incidents of right-wing and white supremacist terrorism.
In April, a former Ku Klux Klan leader, Frazier Glenn Miller, gunned down three people outside a Jewish Community Center in Overland Park, Kansas.
In June, Jerad and Amanda Miller, self-styled members of the right wing “Patriot” movement who earlier attended anti-government protests supporting rancher Cliven Bundy in his dispute over unpaid grazing fees for his cattle, brutally murdered two Las Vegas police officers, draping their dead bodies in a Nazi swastika flag.
In November, Larry McQuilliams who was described by the Austin, Texas, police chief as “a homegrown American terrorist,” fired dozens of rounds a federal courthouse and the Mexican consulate there.
The apparent target of the latest bombing, the NAACP, is one of the country’s oldest civil rights groups, founded in 1909.