AMARILLO, Texas -- The FBI issued an all-points bulletin Tuesday for a 22-year-old man, described as armed and dangerous, in connection with a wave of pipe bombs found in rural mailboxes, authorities said.
Lubbock police spokesman Bill Morgan said the bulletin identified the man as Luke John Helder, who was seen driving a gray Honda Accord with Minnesota license plates. The bulletin said Helder was armed and dangerous, according to Morgan.
Morgan's statement came shortly after a pipe bomb was discovered in a rural mailbox in Amarillo - 110 miles north of Lubbock - with a letter attached. The device was similar to 17 pipe bombs found in four other states, FBI agent Larry Holmquist said in Omaha, Neb.
In Salida, Colo., FBI agent Daniel T. Leyman said authorities nationwide have the description and name of a man who is a possible suspect. Leyman also identified the man as Luke Helder.
"We cannot rule out that he is connected with some kind of organization," Leyman said.
In Omaha, where the investigation is centered, the FBI refused to confirm that Helder is a suspect in the case. Holmquist would only say that investigators were aware that an all-points bulletin had been issued for a man.
At a news conference in Amarillo, FBI agent Miles Burden said the agency was pursuing the case aggressively. He declined to answer questions about Helder, referring reporters to an afternoon FBI news conference in Washington.
The bomb found in Texas was accompanied by a letter, the FBI said. Holmquist said it was found within the Amarillo city limits by a homeowner at around 4:30 p.m. Monday. The homeowner found the bomb in a plastic bag and "moved it into their residence" before calling authorities, he said.
Most of the 17 earlier bombs, found in the Midwest and Colorado, were accompanied by anti-government notes that warned, "More 'attention getters' are on the way."
There have been no arrests and no injuries reported since six people were hurt Friday.
Authorities said anti-government notes found with most of the earlier devices were nearly identical, and profiling experts had said whoever wrote them is probably an older American man.
Officials described the bombs as three-quarter-inch steel pipes attached to 9-volt batteries, and said they appeared to be triggered by being touched or moved.
Investigators had not yet inspected the letter attached to the Amarillo bomb, Holmquist said.
"We haven't made any comparisons yet, but everything else, including the bomb itself, looks similar in nature," he said.
The FBI said Tuesday that the first 16 bombs clearly came from the same source and all carried similar anti-government letters.
FBI agent Mark Mershon said the 17th bomb, found Monday in south-central Colorado, was consistent with the others.
The discovery of that bomb already had made authorities fearful that the wave of terrorism had spread out of the Midwest.
"The logical concern here, given that this device is consistent with the others, is: 'Is the tip of the iceberg?"' Mershon said after the 17th bomb was found in a plastic bag in a curbside mailbox outside Salida.
Postal carriers in the area were told not to deliver materials to any closed mailbox.
The scare began Friday when six people were injured by mailbox explosives in Illinois and Iowa, creating new fears about domestic terrorism striking the heartland.
By the end of the weekend, eight bombs had been found in Illinois and Iowa, and then eight more were discovered in rural areas of Nebraska.
The bombs in Iowa and Illinois were found in rural locations that form an uneven ring about 70 miles in diameter. The Nebraska bomb sites form a large ring about 90 miles across.
Those two areas are separated by about 350 miles but connected by Interstate 80. Salida, about 100 miles southwest of Denver, is more than 400 miles west of the Nebraska bomb sites.
Amarillo is about 325 miles southeast of Salida.
At Salida, all mailbox doors were open along the quiet residential street, 12 miles from the center of town, where the bomb was found. A man who answered the door at the house said he didn't want to comment.
"It seems unreal in a small town like Salida, in a residential neighborhood. It's just unbelievable," said Ida Hansen, a resident of the town of some 4,700 people for 20 years.
As nervous letter carriers went back to work across the Midwest on Monday, rural residents in Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska were asked to leave their mailboxes open or remove their mailbox doors as a precaution.
Jim Pelzer wore safety goggles and earplugs as he delivered mail at Tipton, Iowa, where one of the bombs exploded Friday.
"My feeling was when we had 9-11 and the anthrax scare, I was a little concerned about my job safety," Pelzer said. "But now I'm intimidated and scared."
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