A man set his house on fire, then went to an airport and flew his Piper Cherokee into a building in northern Austin, Texas, CNN is reporting. Federal authorities confirmed it was a criminal act.
A statement released by the U.S. Department of Homeland security earlier said there was no connection to terrorism or criminal behavior — but changed its statement shortly before 1 p.m. to declare the act criminal.
After leaving a chilling, rambling suicide note online, Joseph Andrew Stack set a fire that engulfed his house at 9:15 a.m. Central Time.
He then went to Georgetown Airport about three minutes from Auston, where he hopped the single-engine plane (about the weight of an SUV) and then crashed it, CNN reported.
The seven-story building is next to the headquarters of the FBI’s Austin Field Office, as well as offices of the IRS. Unconfirmed reports say that Stack had tax problems.
Stack’s daughter ran out of the house to a neighbor, and the two went back inside the burning house to rescue her mother. The daughter police Stack ignited the blaze and then took off.
Two F-16s were launched from nearby Ellington Field in Houston shortly before 10 a.m., federal authorities said.
Witnesses told authorities that the plane appeared to be fully under control as it came in, overflew a retaining wall and dived into the building. “It certainly was a suicidal move,” an aviation expert told CNN.
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