Crime

Man is charged with the attempted firebombing of Rep. Emanuel Cleaver’s KC office

On Sept. 11, someone attempted a firebombing of Rep. Emanuel Cleaver’s office at 101 W. 31st St., leaving this broken window. Below the window, broken bottles with paper towels were found.
On Sept. 11, someone attempted a firebombing of Rep. Emanuel Cleaver’s office at 101 W. 31st St., leaving this broken window. Below the window, broken bottles with paper towels were found. The Kansas City Star

Federal prosecutors on Wednesday charged a 28-year-old Kansas City man with attempting to firebomb the local congressional office of Rep. Emanuel Cleaver on Sept. 11.

Eric G. King of Kansas City will make his initial appearance in federal court Thursday morning. According to court records, King has espoused anti-government, anarchist views on social media.

Kansas City police initially identified King as a suspect because he previously had come under scrutiny during an investigation of anti-government graffiti on a local Bank of America building and the spray painting of Kansas City police vehicles, according to federal court records.

Video surveillance records showed that someone walked up to Cleaver’s office at 101 W. 31st St. at 2:52 a.m. Sept. 11 and threw a hammer through a window.

The person then threw a flaming bottle at the window, but it bounced off the building. The person threw a second bottle at the window and ran from the area. Investigators found no fire damage on or in the building, according to court records.

Surveillance video from King’s apartment building in the 2700 block of Charlotte Avenue showed King wearing a backpack similar to that in the office surveillance images, court records say.

Police detained King on Tuesday and recovered from his backpack a container of charcoal lighter fluid similar to that used in the attempted firebombing, a clear plastic soda bottle covered in a tube sock and a can of red spray paint.

Authorities noted that the red spray paint appeared to match the color recently used to vandalize a wall at the Liberty Memorial.

Investigators also tracked Facebook postings purportedly linked to King, including one from Sept. 10 that noted action by a group called the KC Fight Back Insurrectionist Collective.

“KC Fight Back has been … serious in its insurrection activity, and that is the thing that is giving me the most pride in my life,” the post said.

An earlier post noted “these cops aren’t going to kill themselves, get to the streets.”

During a search Tuesday, an FBI agent recovered a letter among King’s personal papers that allegedly described the steps needed to commit a firebombing similar to that attempted at Cleaver’s office, including, “Use hammer/sledgehammer to break door,” “light bottles, throw them, light curtains.”

Notations found on the back of the letter purportedly stated that “the arsons committed on Sept. 11, 2014, were committed solely by the KC FIGHT BACK Insurrectionist Collective” and were done in solidarity with Ferguson, Mo., the site of recent rioting following the police shooting death of Michael Brown.

The letter also allegedly said the action was committed to memorialize those who died in Chile under the reign of a U.S.-backed dictator and lives lost in the Middle East, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen.

To reach Mark Morris, call 816-234-4310 or send email to mmorris@kcstar.com.

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