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Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Hinrichs was Known to Law Enforcement Before Oklahoma Football Stadium Suicide Bombing

UPDATED: 10/6/4:08

Norman, Oklahoma, feed store owner Dustin Ellison's Sept. 28 encounter with University of Oklahoma suicide bomber Joel Henry Hinrichs was witnessed by a plain-clothes police officer who happened to be in the store at the time, Tapscott's Copy Desk has learned.

Ellison declined to sell any of the fertilizer, which was a main ingredient used in the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. Hinrichs could not explain why he wanted to buy a large amount of the fertilizer. Ellison recorded the license plate number of Hinrichs' car as he drove away.

Ellison said in an interview today that he assumed the Norman police officer who witnessed the encounter would report it to the appropriate authorities, so he did not himself contact the FBI. Ellison was contacted by the FBI on the Sunday after Hinrichs blew himself up within 100 yards of 84,000 fans in Oklahoma Memorial Stadium watching the OU-Kansas State football game.

A Norman Police Department spokesman said he couldn't confirm or deny Ellison's assertion because "the FBI owned that information." Hinrichs had no criminal record at the time of his death.


Norman Police Department officials have confirmed that - as first reported here - one of its officers witnessed Hinrichs' attempt to buy ammonium nitrate fertilizer Spet. 28 and was sufficiently concerned about the incident that he did a tentative investigation to determine the OU suicide bomber's identity.

ChannelOklahoma.com's Ryan Welton has the details from a news conference in Norman earlier today.