A small plane apparently piloted by a crazed man with an ax to grind against the IRS crashed his aircraft into an office building in Austin, Texas Thursday -- but not before writing an online rant against the agency and setting his own house on fire.
It started around 9 a.m. when police say Joe Stack set his house on fire. A neighbor rescued Stack's wife and their 12-year-old daughter. About 40 minutes later, Stack's plane slammed into the seven-story Echelon Building that houses a large IRS office.
“It felt like a bomb blew off,” said Peggy Walker, an IRS revenue officer who was sitting at her desk in the building when the plane crashed. “The ceiling caved in and windows blew in. We got up and ran.”
Witnesses at an adjacent mall told KXAN-TV that the plane crash was clearly intentional. They say it came in low, nearly hitting power lines and was roaring at full throttle on impact. "It was flying low and fast and I did a double take," said one witness. "I thought it was a play remote control plane. Then I saw the smoke."
The impact set off a huge 50-foot fireball and broke most of the windows of the glass-facade building. Remarkably, just two people in the building were injured. The fate of the pilot is not known.
On his Web site Wednesday, Stack wrote:
"I know I'm hardly the first one to decide I have had all I can stand. Violence not only is the answer, it is the only answer."
Stack ended the six-page letter with the message:
“I am finally ready to stop this insanity. Well, Mr. Big Brother IRS man, let’s try something different; take my pound of flesh and sleep well."
Despite a frightening reminder of 9/11, the Department of Homeland Security said there is no evidence that this was a terrorist attack.
Watch raw video from the scene: