There are four levels of stupid in the world. Normal stupid people place firebombs outside of NAACP field offices. Really stupid people firebomb NAACP offices in broad daylight. Fantastically stupid people firebomb NAACP offices in broad daylight without knowing how to build a bomb. Those are all pretty garden variety stupid. But only the greatest, only the dumbest, only people fit to be governor of Alaska, do all of that…while attempting to send a “warning” to H&R Block.
“Thaddeus Murphy of Colorado Springs” — that phrase alone should be clue enough that a tale of terrorism gone wrong was forthcoming. The act itself took place some two months ago, when a small explosion went off outside of an office that contained the local NAACP office and a few local businesses. On the same day as the Charlie Hebdoe attack, as it happens.
When authorities arrived, they deduced that someone had placed a pipe bomb against the outside of the building and set it off. Next to where the pipe bomb exploded, they found a red can of gasoline, apparently intended to go off when the pipe bomb exploded — an arrangement that anyone more familiar with explosives than the average Michael Bay movie could tell you was practically destined to fail. Damage to the building was minimal.
The perpetrator had been spotted; though the description of a “balding, white man in his 40s” was probably about as helpful in Colorado Springs as “a black guy” would have been in Harlem. The description given of his white, 2000 F-250 was a little more helpful. A little. They sent out an APB to follow the truck, losing it, but not before someone got the license plate number.
Police initially assumed the act of “domestic terrorism” had been targeted against the NAACP office in that building, and investigated it as such. It was a rational conclusion, since they couldn’t think of any motive dumb enough to attack the other businesses there. Until, that is, they met 44-year-old Thaddeus Murphy.
After spotting the truck in a convenience store parking lot, police attached an electronic tracker to it. They allowed the truck to leave, electronically following it straight to Murphy’s home, and the man himself. There, police swarmed in, arresting Murphy and finding “items connected to the bombing” in his home.
(Side note: If you want to read the full account of how the ATF and FBI tracked Murphy down, you can see the full affidavit here. It’s actually pretty fascinating reading, if you’re into CSI-type shows. Best part was where they identified Murphy’s direct participation by matching hairs found on the pipe bomb’s duct tape to Murphy’s dog.)
Indeed, a lot of smarts and high-tech forensic stuff went into catching Mr. Murphy, who found the devil in the details of his plan. He ultimately admitted to building and setting the bomb, which he’d constructed using a shotgun shell, some fireworks and plans from the ever-reliable internet.
He also admitted to having five guns in the house — a no-no, considering the fact that he’s a convicted felon, and served time in prison not long ago.
So, why not just shoot up the NAACP headquarters, like any self-respecting domestic terrorist would? Because that wasn’t his target. The bomb was a “warning” to a tax preparer working in that same building, who hadn’t yet returned copies of paperwork from 2006 that Murphy needed to file bankruptcy. From the affidavit:
“Murphy admitted to conducting the bombing at the building located at 603 S. El Paso Street, Colorado Springs, Colorado…An accountant by the name of Steve Dehaven wouldn’t return to him (Murphy) his tax records from 2006 to the present and wouldn’t return his phone calls.
Murphy had to declare bankruptcy and need the records because he had financial issues. Murphy believed Dehaven destroyed his tax records…Murphy believed that he set the pipe bomb outside of Dehavens office on January 6, 2015. Murphy believed that Dehaven and his son intentionally were keeping him (Murphy) from his tax records and were giving him the run around…[He] built the pipe bomb as a warning to Steve Dehaven.”
That’s some Palin-scale stupid.
And just for the sake of due process, we’re betting Mr. Murphy was a fan of hers. Maybe after he gets out of prison this time, there’ll be a show in it for him. Which is a level of stupid we’d rather not even think about.