Thursday, February 18, 2010
A small plane crashed into a building, which was one of the Echelon office complex, in north Austin, Texas this morning at 09:56 local time (1456 UTC).
Federal officials say the plane owner was Joseph Andrew Stack III; presumed to be the pilot who set his house on fire on the 1800 block of Dapplegrey Lane in north Austin an hour earlier. He then drove to Georgetown Municipal Airport, approximately 20 miles away, took off and then crashed his private plane into the Echelon complex.
The Federal Aviation Authority indicated the light aircraft was a Piper Cherokee PA-28, as did news reports and eye witnesses. The FAA said the plane had no flight plan and was under Visual Flight Rules.
Mr. Stack committed suicide, and a suicide note has been located. Mr. Stack’s suicide note mentions anti-government and anti-corporate ideals, as well as problems with the Internal Revenue Service and that he lost money in the Enron scandal. Although the incident was intentional, a Department of Homeland Security official said that terrorism is not suspected. The online host of the note, T35 Hosting, later removed it in its entirety after the FBI requested its censorship. However, Wikinews has preserved the full text of the letter.
Austin Fire Department reported around 1100 local time (1600 UTC) that two people were transported to local hospitals and one was unaccounted for. One man was admitted at a local hospital under serious condition for smoke inhalation. The other man suffered from second-degree burns on 25% of his back and has been transported by helicopter to Brooke Medical Center in San Antonio and is said to be in stable condition.
The seven-story Echelon Building One is located on 9430 Research Boulevard and contains Internal Revenue Service offices. The Echelon building complex houses a number of federal offices, including Central Intelligence Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation. Research Boulevard is the service road of U.S. Route 183. The incident has caused severe backups on both Research Boulevard and Route 183.
A witness told The Austin Statesman that he saw the plane flying lower than usual, then it made a sharp turn and hit the building.
An Austin County EMS official, James Shamard, said that smoke is visible from at least a mile from the crash site. Another official for the Austin Fire Department said that two persons who were working in the building are still unaccounted for.
MSNBC reports that there was some form of domestic dispute between Mr. Stack and his wife before the incident. He then reportedly used gasoline to light his house on fire. When the fire department arrived, they rescued his wife and teenage daughter.
According to Jerry Cullen, a pilot and former flight instructor who witnessed the crash, the plane was traveling at high speed at time of impact.