The warrant used to execute a search of Oklahoma University bomber Joel “Henry” Hinrichs III’s apartment, where an undetermined amount of explosives were found, has been sealed by a federal court at the request of the Justice Department.
Hinrichs blew himself up yards from Oklahoma Memorial Stadium Saturday night while tens of thousands of fans watched an OU-Kansas State football game.
Bob Troester, first assistance U.S. attorney in Oklahoma City, said the department requested the warrant be sealed, but declined to elaborate when asked why it was necessary to do so given previous media reports that a depressed Hinrichs acted alone and on a whim.
“You can draw whatever assumption you like,” he said. “We don’t comment on any sealed indictments.”
Troester also said he could not divulge details about what items were found inside Hinrichs’ home, and he could not say if or when the warrant would be unsealed at some point in the future.
The attorney did confirm the incident was still “currently being investigated,” but again declined to provide any specifics.
As WorldNetDaily reported, investigators say they also found “Islamic jihad” material in Hinrichs’ apartment when they searched it. Hinrichs, it turns out, attended a mosque near his university-owned apartment – the same one attended by Zacharias Moussaoui, the only person charged in connection with the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Fertilizer buy goes awry
In another development, the feed-store owner who refused to sell Hinrichs fertilizer that can be used to fashion explosives says an off-duty Norman, Okla., police officer witnessed the attempted transaction.
Dustin Ellison, proprietor of Ellison Seed and Feed in Norman said the officer was standing no more than “two to three feet away” from him and Hinrichs when the former OU student attempted to buy ammonium nitrate – a principle ingredient in the bomb that destroyed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City April 19, 1995 – Sept. 29, just two days before committing suicide.
Ellison also told WND he informed Hinrichs the store didn’t carry any ammonium nitrate and then asked Hinrichs why he needed it. The store owner says the OU junior, who was majoring in mechanical engineering, became visibly nervous, close-mouthed and stammering.
Ellison said the off-duty officer, who overheard his entire conversation with Hinrichs, proceeded to follow the OU student outside when he abruptly left the feed store, copied down his license plate number, then called it in on his cell phone to see if Hinrichs had any outstanding arrest warrants or was tied to other criminal activity.
The off-duty officer told dispatchers Hinrichs appeared “very suspicious” and that he had just attempted to “buy ammonium nitrate,” Ellison said.
Lt. Tom Easley, Norman Police Department public information officer, confirmed that the officer – whom he did not name – was indeed inside the feed store and was a witness to the conversation between the store owner and Hinrichs.
He also confirmed the officer ran Hinrichs’ license plate, and said the officer, who was scheduled to go on duty that same night at 11 p.m., came in a few hours early to discuss what he had seen with other patrol officers, in an attempt to figure how best to handle the information. The officer also reportedly briefed his entire patrol division that night, and filed a report with the department.
The next morning – a little more than 24 hours before Hinrichs killed himself – the officer then discussed the incident with department bomb technicians in an effort to get their assessment as to whether they believed it constituted a legitimate threat. What happened beyond that point remains unclear, however.
What is known is that the officer did not report his observations to the FBI until Sunday morning, several hours after Hinrichs was killed. Agents then contacted Ellison and got his story about Hinrichs’ attempted ammonium nitrate purchase.
Asked how the FBI made the connection to Hinrichs and the feed store so quickly, Easley told WND a bomb technician officer remembered what the off-duty officer had told him and put the two incidents together. That was also one reason why, sources said, investigators were able to identify Hinrichs so quickly after the bombing.
Easley said there wasn’t much the department could do with the information in the short amount of time between the off-duty officer’s encounter and Hinrichs’ death.
As WorldNetDaily reported, 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 Saturday’s football game.
However, so far there is no evidence to suggest authorities suspected Hinrichs had explosive devices or that he planned to detonate one at the game.