CHICAGO (CBS) —
Federal authorities have made an arrest in the case of a pipe bomb that exploded at a post office in East Chicago
on September 6th.
Police say the bomber in this case was a mechanical engineer and supervisor at BP in Whiting. 45 year-old Eric Krieg, of Munster, Ind., is charged with possession of a destructive device and transporting explosive materials. If he’s convicted Krieg could be sent to prison for up to 20 years.
Eric Krieg, arrested in connection with a pipe bomb explosion in East Chicago.
Federal prosecutors say last month he dropped off a bomb at the post office in East Chicago. It injured a woman who was working in the facility and it was seven months pregnant at the time.
That explosive device was meant to be delivered to an attorney working for the city of Hammond. Then in late September prosecutors say Krieg mailed a letter that was found at the post office addressed to another Hammond city employee.
That letter contained a bullet along with written threats, according to prosecutors.
The mayor of Hammond says he gave authorities Krieg’s name immediately after the package bomb blew up in East Chicago.
“When the second target received the package there was a link between the two that was unmistakable,” said Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott, Jr.
“We knew they were aiming at us, the workers of the city of Hammond. The guy that’s guilty in my opinion, he was the first guy that jumped into my mind. Somebody that’s smart and weird enough to do something like this.”
The mayor describes Krieg as an extremist. As to a possible motive, U.S. Attorney Tom Kirsch said they have zeroed in on a motive but did not want to elaborate at this time.
Krieg is married with four children. He was active politically and ran for municipal office as a Republican. Krieg ran for Lake County Council then Lake County Surveyor. He lost both races.
Krieg once accused McDermott of misusing campaign funds, an allegation that the county election officals concluded to be unfounded.
Federal investigators served search warrants at Krieg’s home and work and he was arrested on Thursday.
As for the woman who was injured in the explosion last month, her supervisor was at the news conference during the announcement of the charges. She says her employee is doing well considering what happened.
The suspect in a Sept. 6 pipe bomb explosion in East Chicago, Ind. could be behind another threat directed at neighboring Hammond.
Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott says the pipe bomb that exploded at the East Chicago post office last month, injuring a worker, was meant for an attorney working for the city. He says the same person who sent the package is believed to have sent a manila envelope to a city worker at the employee’s home. The envelope contained threats, the mayor says.
“It was a creepy threat,” McDermott tells CBS 2’s Jeremy Ross. “Anybody would be scared by this threat.”
Sketch of suspect who set off a pipe comb at the East Chicago post office earlier this month. (FBI)
McDermott says law enforcement is certain both incidents are connected.
The FBI previously released a sketch of a person of interest in the East Chicago post office bombing.
CHICAGO (CBS) —
The post office in East Chicago, Indiana, reopened on Thursday, after a postal worker was injured in a pipe bomb explosion a day earlier, but the FBI has yet to determine who is responsible.
The FBI confirmed the blast was the result of a single pipe bomb that went off shortly after 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, causing minor injuries to a postal employee.
Dozens of local, state, and federal law enforcement investigators descended on the building after the explosion, and searched the building to determine if there might be more than one bomb.
Thursday morning, the FBI said there was only one explosive device, but the motive for the bombing remains unclear.
“At this time, investigators are still trying to ascertain if there are any terrorism links,” the FBI said.
Anyone with information about the explosion should call the FBI at 800-225-5324, or go to fbi.gov/tips.
The post office opened for business as normal Thursday morning. Customers who pick up their mail there said they were floored when they learned of the explosion.
“I was just shocked, because it was the first time I hear about something like this in our city, so it’s kind of alarming,” James Stowe said. “It’s something different. You know, you hear about bombs everywhere else, but a post office, not too much.”
A post office employee said the facility was operating as usual on Thursday. The lobby opened a few minutes after it was scheduled, around 6:15 a.m.
Mail carriers loaded up their trucks and shipped out shortly after 9 a.m.
A package apparently blew up Wednesday evening at an East Chicago, Ind. post office, injuring an employee, authorities said.
First-responders were called to the post office at 901 E. Chicago Avenue around 6 p.m. for a reports of an explosion, East Chicago Acting Fire Chief Francisco Mendez said.
A postal employee inside had minor injuries, he said. The cause of the detonation was believed to have been a package. Additional information — including whether there were additional explosives at the scene — was immediately available.
An investigation continues with the help of the FBI and ATF.
– U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson met Monday with Northwest Indiana residents forced from their homes by lead contamination.
More than 340 public housing units in East Chicago had to be abandoned after high lead and arsenic levels were discovered. The government has offered some assistance to those families, but the relocation experience is dependent on who you talk to.
East Chicago Mayor Anthony Copeland praised the government’s management of it all.
“The nation will use this as a blueprint on how to deal with lead crises or any other crises across the nation,” Copeland said.
But some former residents, like Tara Adams, do not see that blueprint as a positive thing.
“A blueprint of what not to do. Yeah. That’ll be good. Of what not to do,” she said.
Empty streets, open doors, broken windows – the West Calumet Housing Complex on Monday was a ghost town. More than 300 families were relocated in Indiana and Illinois. Some protested outside a local school where the U.S. Housing Secretary was meeting with officials.
“It’s been an uphill battle,” said former resident, Demetra Turner. “And I’m facing obstacles. But I’m here because I want to continue to fight. They need to clean East Chicago up.”
Flanked by the Indiana Governor, senators and other elected officials, HUD Secretary Ben Carson said mistakes have been made, but progress is good.
“We have to realize the importance of getting our citizens out of harm’s way. That’s been done here in a good way,” Carson said.
Carson toured the area on Monday and met with former residents who offered a different perspective – what went wrong.
“Not letting us know what’s going on, no transparency, no communication, no resident involvement – those are things that should have been done,” Former resident, Tara Adams said.
Officials said they play to learn from their mistakes and are now focusing on new developments.
“We’re trying to show them that they will be able, in the end, to return back home when we sit and put affordable housing back in place, to restore the lost stock that we had,” East Chicago Mayor Anthony Copeland said.
“We consider them Hoosiers, we want them to come home,” said Senator Joe Donnelly (Dem. – Indiana).
Officials also said the details still have to be worked out, which has residents nervous.
Some say they have been forced into unsafe neighborhoods or communities too far from their jobs and families.
A relocated resident told WBBM she had to give up her job because the only affordable housing she could find was in Joliet and she said the government hasn’t helped her enough.
Residents want a promise that they will get first crack at any new housing down the road.
Reporters asked Secretary Carson what he would say to the families who say they are struggling with relocation:
“I would say we have to lend a sympathetic ear. And we have to be open to using the resources and the connections that we have to try to alleviate their anxieties,” Carson responded.