The pilot who slammed a small plane into an office building in Austin, Texas, this morning was tentatively identified as 53-year-old Joseph A. Stack, a software engineer who harbored a bitter grudge against the Internal Revenue Service and apparently authored an anti-government rant posted on the Internet.
The single-engine Piper Cherokee crashed into the seven-story building just before 10 a.m., sparking a deafening explosion. Flames shot out of the building as employees ran for safety.
It was "a deliberate and intentional act on a federal building," Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, told a late-afternoon news conference.
Two men were injured and the Austin American-Statesman said this evening that two bodies had been recovered at the site. Earlier, officials said one federal employee was not accounted for and the pilot was presumed dead.
Although authorities said they would need forensic information for positive identification, the FBI said the pilot is believed to be Stack.
The building housed an office were about 200 IRS employees worked, according to The Associated Press. A long, rambling anti-government rant posted on the Internet was dated today and signed "Joe Stack (1956 - 2010)."'
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The online manifesto, which was later taken down at the request of the FBI, berated the government, the justice system and the Federal Aviation Administration, but especially the IRS and the tax system.
"How can any rational individual explain that white elephant conundrum in the middle of our tax system and, indeed, our entire legal system? Here we have a system that is, by far, too complicated for the brightest of the master scholars to understand," the statement said.
Authorities said Stack apparently set his own home on fire before going to Georgetown Municipal Airport, north of Austin, and embarking on his suicide mission.
A federal official told the Austin American-Statesman that the plane was registered to Joseph Andrew Stack. A neighbor of Stack's called 911 around 8 a.m. after hearing an explosion and seeing the house go up in flames. The plane crashed into the Echelon Building two hours later.
Authorities stressed that the pilot's bizarre actions were an isolated criminal attack, not part of a terror plot. But workers in the office building said they thought a bomb had gone off.
"It felt like a bomb blew off," Peggy Walker, an IRS revenue officer who was sitting at her desk in the building when the plane crashed, told the AP. "The ceiling caved in and windows blew in. We got up and ran."
In the online manifesto, the author wrote that adding his "body to the count" will ensure that people will take notice of the incident.
"I can only hope that the numbers quickly get too big to be white-washed and ignored that the American zombies wake up and revolt," the author said. "Sadly, though I spent my entire life trying to believe it wasn't so, but violence not only is the answer, it is the only answer."