Earl Moore charged with arson, not terrorism, in Southwest Plaza bomb try near Columbine
Update: At 2 p.m. this afternoon, Earl Albert Moore is scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court in Denver to be advised of the charges against him in relation to an attempted bombing at Southwest Plaza mall on the twelfth anniversary of the shootings at nearby Columbine High School. However, Moore isn't being accused of a terrorist attack or the like. Instead, he faces a single count of arson.
Big pics below.
Does that mean the timing of Moore's act was entirely coincidental rather than targeted at Columbine and the immediate community, many members of which were re-traumatized by school lockdowns and a heavy police presence on that fateful date? The U.S. Attorney's Office isn't saying at this point -- and there's no specific reference to motive in the Moore arrest report, on view below.
The timeline? Moore is said to have purchased propane tanks at a Target store more or less adjacent to Southwest Plaza on April 19, the night before the attack. Then, at 11:43 a.m. the next day -- a time of day very close to when the Columbine assault got underway -- he stepped through an employee entrance carrying a red and white bag of the sort Target uses. A minute later, he exited without it.
Moments later, at 11:52 a.m., an employee at Al's Formal Wear smelled smoke and saw flames coming from what looked like propane tanks. Fire responders soon found the tanks, some matches and a steel pipe bomb -- more than enough to prompt an evacuation of the mall. Also there: what appeared to be a burnt Target bag.
It didn't take investigators long to locate surveillance footage of a man matching Moore's description at the mall and an RTD bus; one of the images is seen here. And by April 23, they had a DNA match. That led to the formal naming of Moore as a suspect, as well as his subsequent capture, at a Boulder King Soopers yesterday morning.
An arson conviction carries with it five-to-twenty year sentence in federal prison and the possibility of a $250,000 fine. But there's no guarantee of answers for why Moore allegedly did what he did, and when.
Read the complaint below. Then page down to read our previous coverage.