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A man who idolizes the Unabomber, according to court documents, was charged with planning to blow up the Reuss Federal Plaza, where more than 800 government employees work.
Man accused of bomb plot
Reuss Federal Plaza was his target, U.S. attorney says
By GINA BARTON email@example.com
Posted: Sept. 29, 2004
A man who idolizes the Unabomber, according to court documents, was charged Wednesday with planning to blow up the Reuss Federal Plaza, a downtown office building where more than 800 government employees work.
Steven J. Parr, 39, of Janesville had made several practice bombs, one of which damaged his hearing, according to court documents. He also has "Uni" and a picture of a time bomb tattooed on his right arm.
Parr was nearing the end of a state prison term on drug charges when authorities learned of his plans to bomb the federal building, according to the criminal complaint. As a result, he was taken into federal custody instead of being released to a halfway house as scheduled Wednesday, according to the U.S. Attorney's office.
"This was not just an idle threat by someone in the prison system," said U.S. Attorney Steven M. Biskupic. "We were going to make sure that none of the employees that work in that building were harmed. . . . We consider him extremely dangerous, and that is why we took action today."
According to court documents, Parr's history included an admission that he set fire to a woman's house with napalm seven years ago because he was angry with her, which added to authorities' fears.
He is charged with threatening to bomb a federal building. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of life in prison.
Parr's cellmate alerted authorities to the plot and allowed the FBI to tape record conversations between the two. During those discussions, Parr described himself as both a separatist and a domestic terrorist. He also revealed plans to destroy the federal building using a delivery-type truck filled with fertilizer. He planned to buy a brown uniform from Farm and Fleet, attach a name tag and carry a clipboard so as not to draw attention to himself or the vehicle, according to the documents.
FBI agents were concerned that Parr had conducted surveillance of the building because he knew it is approximately 25 feet from the street, is across from The Shops of Grand Avenue and has a glass exterior. He also told his cellmate he had seen delivery trucks driving right up to the building. There is no reason someone from Janesville, which is 65 miles from Milwaukee, would know so much about the building, according to the FBI.
"This threat - it was very detailed. It was apparent that the suspect was very familiar with the makeup of this building," said David Mitchell, special agent in charge of the FBI's Milwaukee office.
Transcripts of the recorded conversations are included in the criminal complaint against Parr. In one of them, Parr said that he hoped to join Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh in the history books.
n 800 government employees work.
"I hope it'll make people aware," he said. "I hope others will say, wow, he can stand up and make a statement like that. I might not be as radical as (McVeigh) but I surely agree with him. . . . It might generate some people to stand up and say, you know what? Enough is enough."
Parr also told the cellmate that his attitude had been declining since he lost custody of a boy who he thought was his son. Parr had been raising the boy when a paternity test proved that he wasn't the father. Parr told a new girlfriend that he had started a fire outside the home of the couple who was given custody, according to court records.
In another conversation with the cellmate, Parr talked about blowing up a building on a friend's farm for practice. Parr and his friend had run about 200 feet from the outbuilding when the explosion "knocked us right off our feet," according to the records.
At the time of Parr's arrest for selling marijuana in 2001, police seized a copy of an explosives recipe book called "The Anarchist Cookbook" and a notebook with handwritten chemical formulas for an "ammonia fountain," a "boiling tube cannon" and "mustard gas."
Parr's family members told FBI agents Tuesday that, at the time of his arrest, they removed chemistry books and large drums with chemical-type writing on them from his house. The relatives have since destroyed those items, according to court records.
So far, authorities do not think Parr had a partner in Milwaukee to help him carry out the bombing. However, they urged anyone with information about Parr, his history or his bomb-making activities to call the FBI at (414) 276-4684.
The Department of Homeland Security, which is responsible for maintaining the safety of the Reuss building, assisted in the investigation.
From the Sept. 30, 2004, editions of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel