LITTLETON, Colo. (AP) — An apparent attempted bombing at a Colorado shopping mall likely was not related to the 12th anniversary of the shootings at nearby Columbine High School, according to the FBI.
Investigators have found a motive but aren’t releasing additional information, FBI Denver spokesman Dave Joly said Monday.
The agency Sunday alerted field offices covering all 50 states and Puerto Rico to be on the lookout for Earl Albert Moore, 65.
Moore has been named the suspect in Wednesday’s fire at Southwest Plaza Mall, about 4 miles from Columbine, where 12 students and a teacher were killed in 1999.
Authorities discovered a pipe bomb and two propane tanks after the fire, raising fears from Jefferson County Sheriff Ted Mink that the incident was timed to coincide with the anniversary.
“It is unlikely that the events of 4-20-11 are related to any other incident that may have occurred on that date, previously,” Joly said, declining to mention Columbine by name and adding that nothing has been ruled out.
Colorado authorities said they discovered a pipe bomb and two propane tanks in a hallway of the mall’s food court after firefighters responded to a fire. The explosives, which did not detonate, were found after the fire in the hallway prompted an evacuation of the mall. No one was injured.
Mink, the sheriff, noted that the times of the mall fire and the Columbine shootings were similar, as well as the use of a pipe bomb and propane tanks, which were used during the attack at the school in 1999. Authorities declined to release details about what was found at the mall.
Federal Bureau of Prisons records show that Moore was released from prison April 13 after serving time in a federal prison in Atlanta and Estill, S.C. Federal court record show that Moore pleaded guilty in May 2005 to robbing a bank in Crab Orchard, W.Va., of $2,546.
A story published in the The Register-Herald in nearby Beckley, W.Va., described the March 2005 robbery as a man with a beard entering the bank, waving a gun and demanding cash. Moore, who was arrested a short time later, did not have a beard. Authorities told the paper that the beard was a fake.
A judge sentenced Moore to 18 years in prison for the bank robbery, but a federal appeals court in 2006 ruled his stiff sentence was “unreasonable” and Moore’s sentence was reduced to seven years. Federal Bureau of Prisons spokesman Edmond Ross said Moore received a “good conduct” release from prison after serving six years of his sentence.
Moore has an extensive criminal record and should be considered dangerous, federal officials said.
Colorado Bureau of Investigation records show several arrests for possession of dangerous drugs, theft, and possession of burglary tools dating to 1984. Court records show that an arrest warrant had been issued for Moore in September 2004, six months before the West Virginia bank robbery, for his failure to appear at a court hearing related to a burglary case.
Moore also served a year in Danbury, Conn., federal prison in 1983, according to Ross. In 1985, Moore pleaded guilty to unlawful escape from custody of the attorney general and possession of an unregistered firearm. Details of that case, including where he served his prison sentence, were not immediately available from the Federal Records Center in suburban Denver.
Moore has used at least seven aliases that include variations of the names Earl Albert Buchannan, Donald Charles Morelli and Gary Steele, according to state arrest records. In addition, the FBI said Moore also uses the alias, John Lindzy.
Moore lived in Colorado at least part time from the mid-1980s to 2004, according to public records.
James Wicks, a former son-in-law living in Denver, said he was previously married to Moore’s stepdaughter, Rebecca Duncan Wicks, who has since moved out of state. He declined to provide additional details when The Associated Press reached him at his home Sunday evening.
Moore is described as being between 6 feet and 6 feet, 2 inches tall and weighing about 200 to 225 pounds. He is bald with blue eyes and a grey mustache and has a tattoo of a Viking on each of his arms.
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