Okay, so some punk sending mail bombs isn’t terrorism, but it’s FUNNY! Violence tinged with a sense of humour forces us to confront how we come to understand both.
Was this kid inspired by Chuck Palahniuk, do you think?
Police Say Bomb Suspect Aimed to Make ‘Smiley Face’ Thu May 9, 6:20 PM ET
RENO, Nev. (Reuters) – The 21-year-old college student accused of planting pipe bombs across the U.S. Midwest plannedto arrange the devices in the shape of a giant “smiley face” stretching across the map of the United States, authorities said on Thursday.
Police said Luke Helder, an art student at the University of Wisconsin-Stout, divulged his design after he was arrested on Tuesday outside Reno, Nevada.
“Immediately after he was taken into custody, in a conversation with one of my deputies, he said something to the effect when he is finished he wanted to make a smiley face,” Pershing County, Nevada, Sheriff Ron Skinner told Reuters.
Helder has been accused of depositing 18 pipe bombs in rural mailboxes in five states — Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado and Texas — injuring six people.
The bombs that were found were placed in two circles, one in Illinois and Iowa and another in Nebraska, that could appear to be the “eyes” of a smiley face — a simple smiling icon that has remained popular since it was introduced in the 1970s.
Skinner said Helder’s smiley face comments only deepened the mystery surrounding the bombing spree. “Nobody really knows what he meant by that. It is open to interpretation,” he said.
Helder, a Minnesota native, made a brief appearance in federal court in Reno on Wednesday. He was due to be transferred to Iowa for another court hearing on Friday.
On Thursday, the suspect’s parents, Cameron Helder and Pamela Helder, visited their son for the first time since his arrest and apologized to the victims of the attacks that sparked officials to warn of “domestic terrorism.” He has been held under a suicide watch.
‘WE’RE REALLY SORRY’
“We are here to see our son in his hour of need,” Cameron Helder told reporters after meeting with his son. “It’s already been very hard on us, and my heart goes out to the families of the victims and the victims. We’re really sorry.”
Helder was captured on Tuesday following a high-speed car chase outside Reno. The FBI (news – web sites) said later that he confessed to planting the string of pipe bombs that unnerved large sections of the central United States over the past week.
Helder has been charged with separate criminal counts relating to bombings in Iowa, Illinois and Nebraska, and more charges are expected.
Helder could face 30 years to life in prison if convicted. He was ordered held without bail on Wednesday after a federal judge raised questions about his mental state.
The Rev. Dennis Kampa, a family priest, said Helder, who once played in a rock band called “Apathy” and has smiled broadly for photographers since his capture, does not seem to realize just how much trouble he is in.
‘DO YOU THINK I’LL GO TO JAIL?’
“The mother just mentioned that she was so worried because she thought that Luke did not understand the seriousness of all of this,” Kampa told reporters after meeting with the family.
“The statement that she made to me was that Luke had said, ‘Do you think I’ll go to jail because of this?”‘
Family and friends have said they are shocked by the arrest of a man they saw as a friendly, laid-back student — not a dangerous serial bomber. But in official affidavits, FBI officials sketched out details of a bombing campaign that they said was sparked by anti-government sentiments.
The FBI has said Helder’s father cracked the case, contacting authorities after receiving a suspicious letter from his son that included the words “mailboxes are exploding.”
The bombs — made with 6-inch (15-cm) pipes and nine-volt batteries — were left with typewritten anti-government letters, which promised more violence to get attention.
Eighteen of the devices were discovered deposited in rural mailboxes over a five-day period, accompanied by notes containing anti-government messages. Federal officials said the remaining bombs were discovered in the car that Helder was driving at the time of his arrest.
Since Helder’s arrest, officials in other parts of the country have reported several devices found in mailboxes, but all were deemed to be the work of juvenile pranksters.