Explosives Found At Cumberland County Abortion Clinics
Posted October 2, 1998 7:00 a.m. EDT
FAYETTEVILLE — Suspicious packages were left Saturday at two Cumberland County abortion clinics that were firebombed last month. The FBI and U.S. Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms are investigating the incidents.
An explosive device was found behind the Hallmark Clinic in Cumberland County. A construction crew discovered the bomb ticking near a back window. Officers cordoned off streets near the clinic. The device was rendered safe at 2 p.m. and the main roadways were reopened.
"I heard something ticking," said Glen Haire, the construction worker who found the bomb. "My pick-up was parked about 10 feet to 15 feet away from the bomb. I went back there and saw what it was."
Cumberland County Sheriff's deputies also evacuated and set up a safe perimeter outside the Carolina Women's Clinic after an employee found a suspicious package at the front door.
Authorities say that the two explosive devices were similar consisting of multiple sticks of dynamite complete with a detonator and timing device.
"The device was capable of igniting," Fayetteville Police Sgt. Tim Hayworth said. "If things would have went worst for us, we would have had an explosion. We don't know when it was intended to go off. It was intended to go off and it was not a joke."
Police and ATF agents did prepare for the worst using a robot to inspect one of the bombs. Officers with the Fort Bragg Bomb Squad were able to disarm both bombs without anyone getting hurt.
"I don't know exactly what time the devices were set here this morning, but if it was during the day and with the likelihood of someone being present [at the clinics], the bad guys may have refocused and looking to cause harm against a person instead of property," ATF Supervisor Zebedee Graham said.
The bombs were taken to Atlanta where the ATF will take the bombs apart and look for more evidence.
On Sept. 8, the Carolina Women's Clinic was struck with the second intentionally-set blaze since 1991.
Flames scorched the back door and some siding, causing as much as $3,000 in damage. Gas, kerosene or another type of accelerant had been spread on the back door and trailed into the parking lot, where the chemical was lit.
Less than three miles away at about the same time, the Hallmark Clinic was set on fire when someone threw an incendiary device that burned a hole in the roof. The building also had smoke and water damage inside.
Investigators said at the time they believed the fires were connected. No injuries were reported.
Anti-abortion activists denounced the September clinic fires.
Clinic employees refused to comment on the incident. After the fires and Saturday's bomb threat, local residence say they are afraid that they could be the ones to get hurt.
"It's the second time in three weeks that this has happened, and I feel like if it's happening that much they could have somebody come by late at night just to ride by and check everything out," resident William Buie said.
Investigators are not sure if the fires are connected to the attempted bombings, but they say there are several similarities.