AUSTIN, Texas - A small plane crashed Thursday into a multistory office building in Austin, causing a fire and sending black smoke billowing from the seven-story structure, officials said. At least two people were injured and a third was unaccounted for.
Federal officials said the incident did not appear to be terrorism-related but authorities were investigating whether the pilot intentionally crashed the plane, according to media reports.
Authorities were investigating whether the plane crash was related to an Austin-area house fire earlier in the day.
The plane hit the Echelon Building, which is next to a major highway in north Austin.
Fires were burning from the second through fourth floors, KXAN reported. Crews used ladder trucks and hoses to battle the blazes. Dozens of windows were blown out of the hulking black building and vehicles traveling on a nearby highway paused to look.
All the initial reports are downplaying this as an act of domestic terrorism, including ABC, which reports the following statement from DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano's office:
"The Secretary is aware of the situation in Austin. We do not yet know the cause of the plane crash. At this time, we have no reason to believe there is a nexus to criminal or terrorist activity. We are in the process of coordinating with state officials and other federal partners to gather more information. At this time, we will defer additional questions to local officials and the FAA," Chandler said.
However, an NTSB official just told Fox News that this was being investigated as an intentional act.
Considering that this building reportedly mostly houses IRS buildings, it seems unlikely that it was not domestic terrorism. We'll have to wait and see.
Details as they emerge.
UPDATE: The pilot has been identified as a Joseph Andrew Stack, who appears to have left the following suicide note on the Web, titled "Well Mr. Big Brother IRS Man ... take my pound of flesh and sleep well".
It's a classic right-wing extremist rant.
UPDATE2: I'm amending this. Upon giving this a more careful reading, it's clear this is actually much more complex than your typical right-wing rant; it has a lot of standard right-wing features, particularly the fetish about the IRS and the notion that taxes are inimical to freedom; but there's obviously a lot more going on there as well. I'll post more on this later.
I'm reproducing it in full below in case it disappears from the Web: