Contrary to statements by authorities and the conclusions of media, a police bomb expert says the explosion that killed a University of Oklahoma student outside a packed football stadium last fall was accidental.
According to the Oklahoman newspaper, Sgt. George Mauldin of the Norman, Okla., police department believes 21-year-old Joel Hinrichs III “accidentally blew himself up” Oct. 1 on a park bench 173 yards from OU stadium during the second quarter of a night game against Kansas State.
Asked if Hinrichs intended to enter the stadium with the explosives, Mauldin said: “I don’t believe he intended for an explosion to occur at that spot (on the park bench).”
Some 84,000 people were at the game.
Norman Police Chief Phil Cotten said: “Some of us will forever wonder what he (Hinrichs) was doing at that time, at that place.”
Mauldin and Cotten gave a briefing last night to the Norman, Okla., City Council members about their agency’s investigation prior to the council meeting.
Hinrichs’ father, Joel Hinrichs Jr., has insisted his son meant only to kill himself, and FBI investigators said they found no ties to terrorist organizations.
But as As WorldNetDaily reported, investigators found “Islamic jihad” material in Hinrichs’ apartment, and the student reportedly attended a nearby mosque – the same one attended by Zacharias Moussaoui, the only person charged in connection with the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Also, the warrant used to execute a search of his apartment, where an undetermined amount of explosives were found, has been sealed by a federal court at the request of the Justice Department.
WND reported, in addition, a feed-store owner who refused to sell Hinrichs fertilizer that can be used to fashion explosives said an off-duty Norman police officer witnessed the attempted transaction. Ammonium nitrate was a principle ingredient in the bomb that destroyed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City April 19, 1995.
And, some investigators familiar with the case said they suspected authorities might have had some kind of advanced warning or concern about a potential bombing incident, based on witness accounts of tighter-than-normal security at the football game.
Mauldin said Hinrichs had two to three pounds of triacetone triperoxide, or TATP, in a backpack in his lap when it exploded.
The bomb expert pointed out TATP is “the explosive of choice” in the Middle East.
Maudlin said someone saw Hinrichs “fiddling” with his backpack shortly before the explosion occurred.
“I think he got cocky, and it went off,” Mauldin said.
Mauldin told the council investigators found “quite a bit more” explosive material inside Hinrichs’ apartment, including a pint-size Tupperware container filled with TATP.
TATP is so volatile, Mauldin said, “even a small amount on the tip of a finger will explode if it comes within 8 inches of a match.”
The officer said Hinrichs kept careful notes of experimentation with explosives in the weeks leading up to the blast. The notes indicated the student experimented with adding fragmentation to explosives as if “he were trying to make a damaging product.”
Gary Johnson, a spokesman for the Oklahoma City office of the FBI, dismissed Mauldin’s comments in an interview with blogger Mark Tapscott.
“That’s just an individual’s opinion,” Johnson said, adding the FBI stands by its view that Hinrichs was not involved in any terrorist activities.
Tapscott asked Johnson why the FBI Joint Task Force on Terrorism continues investigating an incident officially said, within 48 hours of Hinrichs death, to be a lone suicide.
“We promised the American people we would do everything possible to insure there was no terrorist connection and that is what we have done,” he said.
Johnson told Tapscott he expects an official statement from the FBI concluding the investigation “within a few weeks.”
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