Texas man angry at IRS crashes plane into federal building

By Calvin Palmer

A man angry at the Internal Revenue Service flew his private plane into federal offices in Austin, Texas, this morning.

A Piper Cherokee registered to Joseph Andrew Stack, struck the seven-story building in northwest Austin at 9:30, setting the building on fire and injuring several people.

An IRS revenue collection agent who worked on the building’s second floor is believed to be missing.

A  man was admitted to University Medical Center Brackenridge in good condition with minor injuries and smoke inhalation. A second person was stabilized and airlifted to the burns unit at Brooke Army Medical Center, in San Antonio, in serious condition.

Austin Fire Department Division Chief Dawn Clopton said it was unclear who was piloting the plane. Fire crews have been unable to reach the crash impact site and do not yet know the condition of the pilot.

The north Austin home of Stack was also set ablaze and destroyed by fire at about the same time as the plane crashed but authorities have not linked the two incidents.

William Winnie, an Internal Revenue Service agent, said he was in a training session on the third floor of the building when he saw a light-colored, single-engine plane coming at the building.

“It looked like it was coming right in my window,” Winnie said.

He said the plane veered down and to the left and crashed into the floors below. “I didn’t lose my footing, but it was enough to knock people who were sitting to the floor.”

Investigators were looking at an anti-government message on a Web site linked to Stack. The Web site outlines problems with the IRS and says violence “is the only answer”.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said President Barack Obama had been briefed about the incident and the Department of Homeland Security was investigating the crash.

Two F-16 fighter jets were scrambled from Houston, Texas, after the crash and were patrolling the area.

[Based on reports by the Austin American-Statesman, Associated Press and BBC News.]

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