posted on: Wednesday February 24, 2010
Tommy Cody ’13 / World Editor
At 9:35 a.m. on Thursday, Feb. 18, employees of the IRS in Austin expecting nothing more drastic than a typical workday, were astounded when a small private aircraft piloted by 53-year-old Andrew Joseph Stack III, crashed into their building located just a couple of miles away from the state capitol, according to The New York Times.Over 100 IRS employees worked in the building that the plane struck. The crash reportedly left 13 employees wounded, two of whom are in critical condition. Two bodies were pulled from the carnage and pronounced dead. One of the two fatal casualties is presumed to be the pilot, Joseph Stack.The crash sent thick, black smoke billowing into the air. Highways were shut down for 10 miles in all directions around the site of the attack. Camille Ziegelhofer, who works near the crash, said, “The whole building shook; it felt like a car hit our building,” according to The New York Times.According to the Federal Aviation Administration, Stack’s small, single, engine-fixed-wing aircraft left Georgetown Municipal Airport at approximately 9:40 a.m. Stack took off only a matter of minutes after he posted an anti-government raid against the IRS, blaming them for his financial troubles. In his scathing manifesto, Stack reprimanded the IRS for stripping him of his retirement savings.According to The Wall Street Journal, Stack maintained that because of his mounting expenses and withering income, he was not able to file a tax return; an action that prompted an IRS Audit costing him $10,000. He also mentioned impending problems about his wife Sheryl’s “unreported income.” In his 3,200 word anti-government manifesto, Stack alluded to his intentions of violent revenge against the IRS, stating that, “Violence not only is the answer, it is the only answer.” Later in the article he stated, “Well, Mr. Big Brother IRS man, let’s try something different; take my pound of flesh and sleep well.” He concluded his tirade by signing the post “Joe Stack (1956-2010).”Officials stressed that the attack was a criminal act, not a terrorist attack. However, the North American Aerospace Defense Command launched two F-16 fighter jets to patrol the surrounding area. Spokesman Jamie Greybeal calls the decision to scramble the jets “a prudent precaution and consistent with our response to recent similar air incidents.”In a public statement, Police Chief Art Acevedo reaffirmed that the crash was not a terrorist attack, stating, “I consider this a criminal act by a lone individual.” Less than an hour after the crash, an explosion tore through Stack’s two story brick house. The burning and destroying of his house was presumed to have been a deliberate plan made by Stack. The fire quickly consumed the house and all of the belongings inside. Stack’s family refused to comment on the matter. Richard Lee, an IRS manager, described his experience, stating that the windows were blown out and he was knocked to the ground by the force of the explosion. He said he helped some people get out but could not get to another part of the building due to neck high flames that barred the way.