Suicide Pilot May Have Targeted IRS in Austin Crash

February 18, 2010

AUSTIN, Texas—The pilot of a small plane that slammed into a building here Thursday morning might have deliberately targeted the offices of the Internal Revenue Service after a tax dispute, federal officials said.

Smoke billows from a building after a small private plane crashed there.

The pilot, Joseph Stack, 53 years old, appears to have been the same person who posted an anti-government manifesto Thursday on the Internet, suggesting he planned the crash, government officials said, though it was too early to be sure.

“Violence not only is the answer, it is the only answer,” the person signing himself Joe Stack wrote toward the end of a tirade against the IRS posted on his Web site. He described himself as a contract software engineer.

The crash, which apparently killed the pilot, sent two men in the offices to the hospital with burns. An IRS manager was missing after the incident, according to one of his colleagues, Richard Lee. Police said they continued to search the Echelon building, where about 190 IRS employees worked.

The crash came about an hour after an explosion at Mr. Stack’s home shortly before 9 a.m. in a subdivision a few miles from the crash site, according to neighbors. The house was quickly engulfed in flames.

Mr. Stack’s family declined to comment, according to police officers answering the door at a house across the street from the burned-out home.

Mr. Stack’s single-engine Piper Cherokee took off from Georgetown, north of Austin, at 9:40 a.m., according to the Federal Aviation Administration. The crash sent a plume of dark smoke into the air and caused highway shutdowns about 10 miles north of the state capitol.

The North American Aerospace Defense Command launched two F-16 fighter aircraft to patrol the air after the crash. Spokesman Jamie Graybeal called it “a prudent precaution and consistent with our response to recent similar air incidents.”

The White House said that President Barack Obama was briefed on the plane crash after noon, and that the incident didn’t appear to be terrorism-related.

Witnesses said they saw the plane approaching the office building, which sits next to a six-lane east-west corridor in an area populated by high-end shops.

Matt Downs, a software salesman with offices about a quarter of a mile away, said the plane banked at high speed with the engine at full throttle. Then came the impact, and a big plume of smoke. The plane hit between the second and third floors of the dark-glass building, one of four buildings in a complex.

“The whole building shook; it felt like a car hit our building,” said Camille Ziegelhofer, who works at a software company in an adjacent building to the crash.

Mr. Lee, the IRS manager, said the explosion blew out the windows and knocked him to the floor, bruising his back. He helped others in the building get out, he said, but couldn’t get to part of his floor because of neck-high flames.

In a note posted online at, a writer who identified himself as Joe Stack complained bitterly about the IRS, blaming the agency for eroding his retirement savings and causing him other financial troubles.

Mr. Stack, who described himself as a recently married, struggling, contract software engineer, said in the posting that he left Los Angeles, where he couldn’t find work, but that he didn’t have much better luck in Austin.

Because of his expenses and lack of income, he didn’t file a tax return, prompting an IRS audit that cost him $10,000, he wrote, and he had other problems involving unreported income.

He signed it off with this: “Well, Mr. Big Brother IRS man, let’s try something different; take my pound of flesh and sleep well.”

After that, he included his name and what appear to be the years of his birth and death: 1956-2010.

Source: WSJ.


2 Responses to “Suicide Pilot May Have Targeted IRS in Austin Crash”

  1. woody on February 18th, 2010 7:55 pm

    The government and the media sure have this investigation all tied up in to a convenient tidy package. As of 6 pm, the local news states that the body of the pilot has not been recovered yet. I smell a false flag so the government can start cracking down on people protesting high taxes and unchecked spending.


  2. geral on February 18th, 2010 8:09 pm