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Archive 2002

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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Top Stories

Tuesday, May 7, 2002

Pipe bomb found in Texas; 22-year-old hunted by FBI

From Staff and Wire Reports
PECOS, Tuesday, May 7, 2002 -- The FBI has issued an all-points bulletin asking West Texas law officers to search for a 22-year-old pipe-bombing suspect, a Lubbock Police Department spokesman said Tuesday.

A pipe bomb similar to 17 others found in four other states was discovered in a rural mailbox in Amarillo with a letter attached, the FBI said.

Bill Morgan, a spokesman with the Lubbock Police Department, confirmed that the suspect named in a Department of Public Safety radio transmission is Luke John Helder, 22, who reportedly is driving a gray, 1992, four-door Honda Accord with Minnesota license plate number EZL 783. Helder is described as armed and dangerous. He is white, 5 foot 9 inches, 150 pounds with brown hair and green eyes.

FBI agent Larry Holmquist in Omaha, Neb., said the bomb found in Amarillo, about 125 miles north of Lubbock, "looks similar to the others."

"Upon our initial inspection, it appears it would be from the same source," he said.

Rural residents across West Texas and in the surrounding states of New Mexico, Kansas and Oklahoma are urged to be careful opening their mailboxes after Amarillo homeowner Roberto Martinez, opened his mailbox Monday afternoon and found the bomb and two notes in what a see-through, pink-hued sandwich bag.

Martinez, 44, told The Associated Press he the bomb was a metal pipe about six inches long with a bunch of wires, two needles, black electrical tape and two end caps.

As soon as he found the bomb, "I took it over to my friend's house. He then called police."

Martinez said police told him it did not explode because it lacked a battery.

"I'm afraid. I'm not going to check the mailbox no more," Martinez said. "I don't know who did it."

Even though the danger has increased in the West Texas area, postal workers in the Rio Grande area for now will conduct business as usual according to Jim Coultress, who is a member of the public affairs and communications for the U.S. Postal Service

"Right now we're delivering as usual," he said.

Coultress explained however, that the postal employees have been informed about the mailbox bombings and are encouraged to take extra precautions when delivering.

"We are asking them to be especially cautious and especially vigilant when delivering," he said.

Coultress said that the employees are asked to report anything that might seem unusual.

"If there's anything in the mail box that looks unusual we asked them to report it to their supervisor or the local authorities," he said.

Many people have been calling the post offices requesting information on the bombings, according to Coultress.

"We're just asking the carriers as well as customers to be especially vigilant and especially cautious when they go to their mailboxes," he said.

The pipe bomb scare began last Friday when six people were injured by mailbox explosives in Illinois and Iowa, creating new fears about domestic terrorism striking the heartland.

Amarillo is about 325 miles southeast from Salida, Colo., where one of the pipe bombs was found Monday.

"We haven't made any comparisons yet, but everything else, including the bomb itself, looks similar in nature," Holmquist said.

Retired local clown's car now part of Museum's show

Staff Writer
PECOS, Tuesday, May 7, 2002 -- It's no joke that a local "clown" has donated his car to be displayed at the West of the Pecos Museum.

Woody Merritt, of Pecos, donated his replica of a 1916 Ford clown car to be displayed at the museum now that he has retired from clowning around.

For many years, Merritt has been a member of the Judge Roy Bean Shrine Club where he was a part of the clown unit.

Merritt said that he bought the little car brand new approximately 12 to 15 years ago for $850 in Missouri and has had a lot of fun using it in parades over the years.

"I have had more fun in that car than anything I've ever done," he said.

Over the years Merritt and his fellow clowns have appeared in numerous parades in the area including Kermit, Fort Stockton, Marfa, Pecos, Van Horn and Sierra Blanca.

Merritt, who has lived in Pecos since 1945, said his favorite part of riding his little car in parades was the happiness that it brought to so many children.

He happily told the story of a five-year-old girl he remembers from one parade who was so excited to see the clowns.

He continued to explain that he rode up to the girl and all the girl wanted to do was give him a kiss on the cheek.

"I'll never forget that young girl," he said smiling.

Now that he and the seven remaining members of the Shriner's Club are getting older, Merritt decided it was time to retire his little Ford.

"I want it to have a good home in honor of me and my family," he said.

Curator Dorinda Millan said she and the staff of the museum are happy to make a new home for the replica.

"We're just excited to have it," she said. "It'll be a great addition to the museum."

The car is on display in the Lineberry Building in the 100 block of Oak Street next to the Caboose.

Rifle Club hosting Saturday matches at range in Pecos

PECOS, Tuesday, May 7, 2002 -- Pecos Rifle and Pistol Club will hold a John C. Garand and a Service Rifle match this Saturday morning beginning 8 a.m. at the Club range.

The Garand match resembles a Service Rifle match in form but is limited to "as-issued" M-1 Garands, M-1 Carbines, 1903 Springfields and 1917 Enfields. The Club will issue ammunition for the match. The Service Rifle match is scheduled to begin after the Garand match. Competitors do not have to be club members.

For more information contact Smokey Briggs at 445-5475.


PECOS, Tuesday, May 7, 2002 -- High Monday 100. Low this morning 65. Forecast for tonight: Partly cloudy. Lows in the lower 60s. South winds 5 to 10 mph. Wednesday: Mostly sunny. Highs near 95. Southwest winds 10 to 20 mph. Wednesday night: Partly cloudy. Lows in the upper 50s. Thursday: Partly cloudy. Highs in the upper 80s. Friday: Partly cloudy with a slight chance of thunderstorms. Lows 55 to 60. Highs near 90.


Archie Elliott and Fermin Rodriguez

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Pecos Enterprise
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
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324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321

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