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Mall bombing suspect appears in court

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Moore faces arson charge

By Emile Hallez

Southwest Plaza bombing suspect Earl Albert Moore appeared in federal court at 2 p.m. Wednesday, when U.S. Magistrate Judge Craig Shaffer advised him of his rights.

Moore faces one count of arson in connection with explosives discovered April 20 in a back hallway at Southwest Plaza mall.

Though Shaffer scheduled preliminary and detention hearings for May 6, attorneys indicated a federal grand jury indictment could be issued against Moore on May 5.

“I don’t think there’s any secret that there’s a grand jury,” said Moore’s court-appointed attorney, Robert Pepin, adding that he advised Moore against any interviews with government agents.

Moore, who may be transferred from the Jeffco jail to the Englewood Federal Correctional Facility, was concerned about the availability of medical treatment, Pepin said.

Shortly before being released from federal prison on April 13, Moore was diagnosed with prostate cancer, Pepin said. Moore also apparently has hepatitis C.

According to a copy of the criminal complaint against the suspect released Wednesday morning, Moore would face between five and 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted on the single count: “arson of building and other real property in interstate commerce.”

Details from the complaint indicate Moore was identified as the suspect based on analysis of DNA taken from the crime scene. The genetic profile matched that of Moore, whose DNA information was previously logged into a federal database.

Photos from Moore’s driver's license and a prior jail booking appeared similar to images from the mall’s security camera footage, where he was allegedly seen April 19 entering an employee entrance that was routinely left unlocked during business hours, the arrest affidavit states.

A more complete description of the explosive devices — a crude pipe bomb and two camping-style propane tanks — is also in the affidavit.

At the site of a fire in the back hallway near the building’s food court, firefighters discovered on April 20 two 1-pound Coleman propane tanks bound together with duct tape. The propane tanks, along with a nearby electrical box, were stuffed with paper at their sides.

Melted to the bottom of the small tanks was the remains of what appeared to be a plastic Target shopping bag carried by a man seen entering the building on April 19.

Security footage obtained from the Target store near the mall showed the same person purchasing two propane canisters and a roll of tape shortly after 8 p.m. on April 19, the affidavit states.

The mall footage also shows the man exiting the building without the Target bag, the affidavit states.

Further, no other people were seen on the back hallway’s video footage, until a mall security officer entered the corridor to respond to the fire.

A box of matches was also found at the scene, along with a single, burnt matchstick.

Nearby, investigators also found the pipe bomb, whose cap fell off at the scene, leaking black powder from the galvanized steel cylinder.

Authorities evacuated about 300 employees and several thousand customers from the mall around noon April 20, after a tuxedo shop employee noticed smoke coming from the area.

The fire was reportedly extinguished seven minutes later, and no injuries resulted.

Though the event occurred on the 12th anniversary of the Columbine High shootings, the FBI said Tuesday there appears to be no link between the attempted bombing and the Jeffco school district.

Moore was captured Tuesday morning at a Boulder King Soopers, where a shopper noticed him having coffee at the store’s Starbucks. Boulder police arrested him without incident.

Contact Emile Hallez Williams at emile@evergreenco.comor 303-933-2233, ext. 22. For updates, check www.ColumbineCourier.com.