Unabomber News History

Copyright 1995 The Chronicle Publishing Co.

The San Francisco Chronicle



LENGTH: 755 words

HEADLINE: Bomb Kills Lobbyist in Sacramento FBI believes long-sought Unabomber has struck again

BYLINE: Robert B. Gunnison, Greg Lucas, Chronicle Sacrame

DATELINE: Sacramento


The notorious slayer known as the Unabomber apparently struck in the state capital yesterday with a mail bomb that killed a timber industry lobbyist in his downtown office.

Investigators said the package, described as a pipe bomb wrapped in brown paper, exploded about 2:20 p.m., a few minutes after it was delivered, in the reception area of the California Forestry Association offices, three blocks north of the state Capitol.

Killed in the blast was Gilbert Murray, 47, of Roseville, Placer County. He was president of the trade association representing mill owners and private and commercial forest landowners.

''It sounded like a muffled sonic boom,'' said Dana Santiago, a construction worker who was working in the street in front of the one-story brick building at 1311 I Street.

The building quickly swarmed with police, firefighters and federal agents, clearly jittery about investigating a bombing less than a week after the deadly Oklahoma City federal building blast.

Less than six hours later, the FBI tied the explosion to the UNABOM killer.

''Based upon our preliminary assessment of some of the material at the crime scene, the UNABOM task force advised me the similarities observed indicate this is the work of the Unabomber,'' said Richard Ross, FBI special agent in charge in Sacramento.

Members of the FBI's San Francisco-based UNABOM task force examined the aftermath of the blast that knocked off doors, blew down ceiling tiles and shattered glass partitions inside the 7,500- square-foot office building.

The UNABOM killer, who got his name because his initial targets were universities and airline officials, has set off as many as 15 previous mail bombs during the past 17 years, several in Northern California. Two people have been killed in the explosions, and 22 people have been injured.

The elusive UNABOM killer reportedly has a preoccupation with wood, sometimes carving bomb parts out of wood instead of using metal components. He also likes to box his bombs in wood -- sometimes using four varieties.

In a December attack attributed to the UNABOM killer, advertising executive Thomas Mosser of New Jersey was killed at his home, on a street called Aspen. An earlier victim of the UNABOM killer was Percy Wood, then president of United Airlines, who lived in Lake Forest, Ill.

But other bombings by the UNABOM killer have no wood connection.

Michael Heenan, Sacramento Police Department spokesman, said the package was addressed to the association's address, but not to Murray. He would not say to whom it was addressed, but said a receptionist gave the package to Murray, who opened it.

Five other people were in the building at the time, but none was injured. A pregnant woman who left the building moments after the blast was hospitalized for observation, not for injuries, said Heenan.

Jan Dunbar, a Fire Department spokesman, said the blast left a series of small holes in the walls, but he declined to elaborate on what might have caused them.

Tom Griffin, spokesman for the FBI in Sacramento, said investigators had described the explosive as a metal pipe bomb.

The explosion follows three bomb-related incidents in Nevada in the past month, all aimed at buildings of the U.S. Forest Service.

But Griffin discounted any ties between the Nevada incidents and the Sacramento explosions. ''We don't think they're related,'' he said. ''It's a different group of circumstances all together.''

The California Forestry Association has not been without controversy. In 1993, it filed an unsuccessful petition asking the federal government to remove the northern spotted owl from the endangered species list.

But Murray's former associate, Teresa Davies, now a lobbyist for Louisiana Pacific, said,''I know all the environmental lobbyists pretty well, and I work well with them and so did Gil. They're just as shaken up as the rest of us.''

Despite their opposition to the timber industry, environmentalists disavowed any connection to the bombing.

Earth First activist Judi Bari said she was not familiar with the association targeted yesterday. ''Such tactics always have been outside the tactics of even the most crazy radical Earth Firster,'' Bari said. ''I condemn it in the strongest terms.''

Bari was severely injured in a 1990 car bombing in Oakland and is suing the FBI and the Oakland Police Department for what she calls a ''counterintelligence operation directed at environmentalists in California.''