SPOKANE, Wash. — A man previously tied to a white supremacist organization was arrested Wednesday on charges that he left a sophisticated bomb along a Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade route in Spokane.
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Kevin Harpham, 36, was arrested Wednesday and scheduled to make an afternoon appearance in federal court. A magistrate clerk at the U.S. District Court in Spokane told The Associated Press that Harpham was charged with one count of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and one count of knowingly possessing an improvised explosive device.
A federal law enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity and declining to provide additional details because the case is ongoing, said the man arrested was a white supremacist.
Meanwhile, Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center also told the AP that Harpham was a member of the white supremacist National Alliance in 2004, although the organization – which tracks hate groups – wasn’t certain when he joined or if he had left the group.
It wasn’t clear if Harpham has a lawyer.
The bomb was found on Jan. 17 inside a backpack by workers before the start of the parade and was defused without incident.
U.S. Attorney Michael Ormsby of Spokane said he planned to release information later Wednesday.
“We don’t have the whole picture yet,” Ormsby said.
Federal and local law enforcement officers descended on a home near the rural Stevens County town of Addy on Wednesday. Two T-shirts found with the bomb were tied to that area.
Officials for the FBI described the bomb as sophisticated and designed to produce mass casualties.
For weeks, the FBI had said nothing about possible suspects. But opinion from the beginning focused on some of the white supremacist groups that have brought notoriety to the region in the past three decades. The area once served as headquarters for Richard Butler’s Aryan Nations, whose members were lured by the small number of minorities.
The bomb was sent to an FBI lab in Quantico, Va., and the agency offered a $20,000 reward for information from the public.
The two T-shirts found with the bomb were tied to Stevens County. One of the shirts was distributed last year at the “Relay for Life” race in Colville. The second shirt – which had the words “Treasure Island Spring 2009” on the front – was from a local theater production in 2009 in the town of Chewelah.