A man whose pickup truck contained several homemade anti-personnel bombs was arrested yesterday in a tunnel leading to the Kansas Capitol in Topeka on the same day that hearings on controversial anti-immigrant immigration opened, The Associated Press reports. The man, who police declined to identify, had a sticker on his truck that read, “Welcome to America. Now speak English.”
Capitol spokesman Patrick Saleh said the pickup was parked in a restricted lot for state workers a short distance from the Capitol. Its owner, he said, was arrested in a tunnel connecting the Capitol to an office building after officers spotted an empty holster and other suspicious objects in his truck. He was unarmed and did not resist, and was being questioned later Wednesday by officials of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
The man claimed to have an appointment in the office building, the AP reported, but none could be verified by authorities.
The arrest came as a state House committee opened three days of hearings on controversial anti-immigrant legislation backed by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the author of most of the punishing nativist laws being passed in states like Arizona and Alabama. The hearing drew pro-immigrant protesters yesterday.
The man’s truck had a specialty Florida license plate that is only issued to qualified U.S. military paratroopers. The AP said it also had a Special Forces sticker on its bumper and a sticker on its back window saying, “Does my American flag offend you? Call 1 800 LEAVE THE USA.”
Saleh said the explosives were made with household materials and designed to spray shrapnel. He said the bombs were live, “actual explosives.”
The case and its possible connection to immigration recalled the arrest and eventual guilty plea of Jeffrey Harbin, a well-known neo-Nazi arrested in January 2011 near the Arizona-Mexico border. He was carrying 12 homemade grenade-like devices fitted with ball bearings, which were meant to “maximize human carnage,” as a prosecutor put it at the time. Details of Harbin’s plans were never made public.