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South Bay bomb-anthrax plot unravels

by Larry Altman Sunday, Sep. 29, 2002 at 6:48 AM

Interesting what does and doesn't appear in the "mainstream" news, isn't it??

South Bay bomb-anthrax plot unravels

TERROR: Authorities say goal was to force the release of


suspect. Torrance man is sentenced.

By Larry Altman


It was an elaborate plot that police say was designed to

cause chaos with

explosions and an anthrax scare.

Using homemade bombs encased in white powder, the

participants figured they

would create so much public hysteria that police

officials would release a

suspected white supremacist from prison to help put an

end to the turmoil.

In the end, however, an antiterrorism team broke up the

scheme, kept the

prisoner behind bars and arrested a 20-year-old Torrance

man they say built

two bombs at home.

“This whole plot was hatched in an effort to benefit

this guy in prison,”

Redondo Beach police Lt. John Skipper said. “If we had

not found out about

this, they would have ignited these devices and it would

have potentially

caused a great deal of panic.”

The plan called for planting bombs encased in a white

powder at the Roybal

Federal Building in downtown Los Angeles, an

unidentified Torrance school

and three other locations.

Police said the plot started to unravel March 20, when

officials monitoring

prisoners’ telephone calls at Wasco State Prison in Kern

County overheard

and recorded conversations about a biological threat

possibly involving

anthrax distributed through the mail, Torrance police

Lt. Patrick Shortall


The FBI alerted its Long Beach-based antiterrorism task

force when it was

determined the calls were from Torrance, Shortall said.

South Bay police

officers joined the task force after 9-11.

Authorities would not identify the inmate, but he was

questioned and

cooperated with prison authorities in the case. It was

unclear whether he

was charged.

The plan hatched by the group — possibly involved with a

white supremacist

organization — was to go like this: Bombs would be

placed in the Roybal

Federal Building, on a bus bench outside the Torrance

school, at the

inmate’s former girlfriend’s home, and at two locations

at a Hampton Inn

Hotel in Bakersfield. Conspirators, meanwhile, planned

to mail the powder

to locations throughout the country to cause an anthrax

scare, Shortall said.

After some of the bombs detonated, the group would

inform police officials

that if they cooperated and let the inmate out of

prison, he would take

them to the locations of the other bombs.

Those bombs, he would tell them, were near the El Cortez

Hotel in Las Vegas

and he needed to go there to point them out. Once there,

conspirators would

aid him in breaking free from police officers and he

would escape on a

motorcycle kept hidden inside a parked van.

Police say they have no idea whether any of this would

have worked, but

they foiled it before anything could get started.

“This plan would have gone off without the intervention

of the police,”

Shortall said.

Once they listened to the prison telephone calls and

identified Phillip

Bristol Tyner, an Anza Avenue resident on the other end

of the line, they

enticed the inmate to cooperate with them. The inmate,

Shortall said, told

Tyner to meet a man named “Bob” who would pay him

,000 for his role in

the plan, which included holding and transporting 3

pounds of “anthrax.”

The two were then to set out to initiate the plan.

Bob actually was an undercover police officer who

arranged to meet Tyner on

March 21, Shortall said. Before that meeting, however,

Tyner’s parents

confronted him about a white supremacist mailing that

arrived from the

prison inmate, and about items used to make bombs that

they found in the

apartment, Shortall said. The parents talked Tyner out

of meeting “Bob” and

took the explosives to a trash bin in Gardena, where

they were discarded,

Shortall said.

Police swarmed into the apartment on March 21, arrested

Tyner and found the

bomb parts in the trash bin, Shortall said.

“They are crudely made attempts at pipe bombs, which

included the use of a

hundred .22-caliber rounds,” Shortall said.

Tyner was charged with conspiracy to make and place

destructive devices,

but FBI bomb experts later concluded the pipes and end

caps would not

create an operable bomb, Deputy District Attorney Steven

Belis said.

Prosecutors offered Tyner a chance to plead to a lesser

charge. He took it

and pleaded guilty June 13 to a felony charge of

malicious possession of a

facsimile bomb. He received 16 months in state prison.

“I took it very

seriously,” Belis said. “I wouldn’t offer anything less

than state prison

for this guy.”

Tyner’s father said Tuesday that police officials blew

the whole thing out

of proportion and that his son is a “patsy,” manipulated

by the prison

inmate and police.

Police would not identify the inmate, but Tyner’s

father, also Phillip

Tyner, identified the man as Rick Sutton and provided

his prison

identification number. Department of Corrections records

showed Richard

Wayne Sutton with that identification number was sent to

prison Feb. 27 on

a two-year forgery sentence. He is now at San Quentin

State Prison.

“The FBI is investigating the inmate . . . and whatever

larger thing he

might be involved in,” Belis said.

Tyner’s father said his son did not know Sutton until

they met at county

jail in February. Tyner had been arrested on a graffiti

charge and was

later released.

Tyner’s father said Sutton took advantage of his son,

who is bipolar.

“He had fear of this guy,” the father said. “This guy

was supposed to have

people outside. He was told to make a fake bomb.”

The father said he found two bombs in the apartment and

dismantled them.

Each contained pipe, end caps, twisted wire and bullets.

“They used my son as a patsy,” he said. “The police

department, the group

of guys and the FBI.”

The father said the police blew the incident out of

proportion to make it

look like they are doing something in the wake of the

9-11 terrorist attacks.

“There was no way in the world that these (bombs) were

going to go off,” he

said. “You could tell it wasn’t real. It wasn’t going to


Police agreed the incident was not a sophisticated

terrorism plot, but said

the investigation and intervention was necessary to

thwart an attack.

“It’s not a harmless event at all,” Shortall said.

“People don’t get

arrested for making destructive devices for no reason.”

Publish Date:September 25, 2002

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