I don't have a clue what this bizarre story is all about, but I doubt it has any wider ramifications. Still, I have to wonder, why do officials make the silly pronouncements they do? Surely the police can't be serious in saying that there is "no obvious connection" between the men involved? Does that pass the smell test? It brings to mind the almost immediate announcement by officials of the Department of Homeland Security, within the hour of it happening, that last month's blackout was not terrorist related. How could they possibly know at that point, since they had no real idea of what caused the blackout in the first place?
I can understand officials wanting to stem any possible panic, but then all they needed to say is something like: "At this time, we have every indication that this is a mechanical or human failure of some sort, and is not terrorist related. We have absolutely no intelligence which indicates to us that terrorism was involved, but we're taking every precaution, just in case. When we know for certain what the cause was, we'll know then if terrorism is implicated."
But no, they had to come out and say, point blank, "No terrorism involved," which is a statement of no particular value.
Similarly, the police in the case below have an extremely bizarre incident of bank robbery and bombing, and the death or two men who worked together, and all they can say is "there's no connection." Any intelligent adult can see that, prima facie, there is an obvious connection between the two, although it's certainly possible that it may not be borne out by further investigation to be related to the crimes committed.
In the beginning it appeared to be a run-of-the-mill bank robbery.
Brian Douglas Wells, 46, a pizza deliveryman, walked into a bank on a busy street in Erie, Pa., on Thursday, slipped the teller a note and walked out with a bag of cash, said Special Agent Bob Rudge, a supervisor in the F.B.I.'s Erie office.
But in a twist that has experienced local and federal investigators perplexed, Mr. Wells had a bomb around his chest that detonated and killed him shortly after he was stopped by the state police and taken into custody.
When he was arrested, investigators said, Mr. Wells claimed that someone had forced him to wear the bomb, set a timer and sent him out to rob the bank.
Agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation who were called in to work on the bank robbery were now helping the local police look into whether Mr. Wells's death was a homicide, Mr. Rudge said.
"There is information that he was forced to don this type of apparatus," Agent Rudge said in a telephone interview yesterday. "That is what we are investigating. Whether or not that is the case we just don't know yet."
The story took another turn yesterday when a friend and co-worker of Mr. Wells's was found dead.
The Associated Press quoted the police as saying that there was no obvious connection between the two deaths. Nevertheless, as a precaution, the authorities sent a bomb squad to search the house where the man's body was found.
Investigators said that the 43-year-old man, identified as Robert Pinetti by The Associated Press, lived in the house with his parents.
The police said they received a call early yesterday asking for medical assistance at the home, but that Mr. Pinetti refused it. A few hours later, the authorities were called to the house again after his parents had found him unresponsive. He was pronounced dead.
"There was nothing overtly obvious as to the cause of his death," Cpl. Mark Zaleski of the state police said, "but because there's a relationship between the two individuals, we are over there."
Both Mr. Pinetti and Mr. Wells worked for Mama Mia's Pizza-Ria on Peach Street, a busy commercial strip.
It was about 1:40 p.m. on Thursday when Mr. Wells set out to deliver a pizza to a residence on the same street, Mr. Rudge said. F.B.I. agents said they believed that Mr. Wells did make the delivery. Investigators did not find a pizza in the car.
But what happened after that is unclear.
Officials do know that an hour after leaving for his delivery, Mr. Wells was slipping a note to a teller at the PNC Bank, also on Peach Street.
The note asked for money and said that Mr. Wells was carrying a bomb, investigators said. The teller gave him the money, Mr. Rudge said, and he left.
As Mr. Wells went to his car, witnesses called the state police. There were troopers nearby and they pulled Mr. Wells over before he left Peach Street.
After they took him out of his car and handcuffed him, they learned that the case might be more than a typical bank robbery.
He told them he had a bomb strapped to his chest, that it was about to explode and that someone else had put it there, investigators said.
"It's going to go off," Mr. Wells is heard saying in videotape taken at the scene by a local television station, WJET-TV. "I'm not lying."
Indeed, he was not. As the authorities waited for a bomb disposal team to arrive, the device strapped to Mr. Wells exploded and he was killed in the blast. He was the only casualty.
Agent Rudge said that the state police had ordered Mr. Wells to sit on the pavement near a police car. He said they had cleared an area around him and called in the Erie police bomb squad, but that the bomb went off before they arrived.
It is not unusual for bank robbers to force tellers to hand over money by claiming to be carrying explosives. But bank robbers who actually have explosives are a bit more unusual, and bank robbers who actually die when bombs go off are virtually unheard of, Mr. Rudge said.
"What makes this case different is the robber was killed," Mr. Rudge said.
The state police did not return a call seeking comment.
Someone who answered the telephone at the pizza shop would only say: "You tell me what's going on. What I know I told the F.B.I."
Update: Sure, it's possible that their deaths are coincidental, despite the connection between them, or that they are related, but not in any way connected to the crimes under investigation, (for instance, Man B is despondent over the bizarre death of his friend, Man A, and commits suicide or accidentally ODs because of it), but I'll bet that's not the way the investigation is proceeding, that they're looking for ways in which the deaths are related and will continue to do so until they rule out any connection relevant to the crime. And that's what they should be doing, because it's only common sense to proceed in that manner.
So why, then, make a silly public statement disavowing any connection before they know that's the case? Such pro forma announcements are damaging in that they whittle away, bit by bit, at the public's trust of the responsible authorities. (Although, it's perhaps an open question -- after years of lying, corruption, scandals, the attempted overthrow of a legitimate sitting President over matters of personal behavior not related to his official duties, and the stealing of an election away by use of bully-boy tactics and the Supreme Court of the United States -- if the public has any trust left at this point.)
ERIE, Pa. -- As they continue to search for the maker of the unusual neck-clamp bomb that killed pizza delivery man Brian Douglas Wells, investigators are also examining an equally unique gun found in Wells' car to determine if it was made by the same person.
The gun-like weapon, which some investigators have likened to a cane that could fire a projectile, was found last week in Wells' car after he was killed by the explosion of a rectangular, metal-sheathed device that had been clamped around his neck.
Investigators said the gun -- like the bomb -- appeared to have been specially made in a machine shop, rather than modified from other objects.
The weapon is so distinctive that investigators considered releasing photographs and details about it yesterday at a news briefing, as they did earlier this week to seek tips from the public about the origin of the neck-clamp bomb. But they abruptly canceled yesterday's briefing, saying they wished to withhold details about the gun while they study how it was made and determine whether its construction resembles that of the metal-collar bomb.
"From an investigative standpoint, we prefer not to go before the public right now," said state police Cpl. Mark Zaleski.
hostile to science
lacking in empathy
lacking in public spirit
out of control
Thanks to: Breeze, Chuck, Ivan Raikov, Kaiju, Kathy, Roger, Shirley, S.M. Dixon
i've got a little list...
Steven Abrams (Kansas BofE)
Howard Fieldstead Ahmanson
Roger Ailes (FNC)
Alan Bonsell (Dover BofE)
Bill Buckingham (Dover BofE)
George W. Bush
Bruce Chapman (DI)
The Coors Family
William A. Dembski
Leonard Downie (WaPo)
John Gibson (FNC)
Fred Hiatt (WaPo)
James F. Inhofe
Philip E. Johnson
by Joel Pelletier
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Stephen C. Meyer (DI)
Judith Miller (ex-NYT)
Sun Myung Moon
Elspeth Reeve (TNR)
Martin Peretz (TNR)
Richard Mellon Scaife
Susan Schmidt (WaPo)
John Solomon (WaPo)
Richard Thompson (TMLC)
Bob Woodward (WaPo)
All the fine sites I've
Be sure to visit them all!!
Arthur C. Clarke
Daniel C. Dennett
Philip K. Dick
Stephen Jay Gould
"The Harder They Come"
Ursula K. LeGuin
The Marx Brothers
Michael C. Penta
Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger
"The Red Shoes"
"Singin' in the Rain"
Talking Heads/David Byrne
Hunter S. Thompson
"2001: A Space Odyssey"
If you read unfutz at least once a week, without fail, your teeth will be whiter and your love life more satisfying.
If you read it daily, I will come to your house, kiss you on the forehead, bathe your feet, and cook pancakes for you, with yummy syrup and everything.
(You might want to keep a watch on me, though, just to avoid the syrup ending up on your feet and the pancakes on your forehead.)
Finally, on a more mundane level, since I don't believe that anyone actually reads this stuff, I make this offer: I'll give five bucks to the first person who contacts me and asks for it -- and, believe me, right now five bucks might as well be five hundred, so this is no trivial offer.