A federal arrest warrant was issued Saturday for a man suspected of planting explosive devices at the homes of his former co-workers at an aviation company, and police said they believe whoever made the bombs is responsible for similar devices found in other states in recent months.
Robert L. Burke, 54, is suspected of placing five explosive devices at Grand Junction-area homes of Serco Group Pcl. employees and an FAA employee Friday. Three of the bombs went off, causing some slight property damage but no injuries, and two were disarmed.
Police have described the bombs as containers resembling office-style trash cans with a device strapped to them.
The devices were similar to some found in other states, Grand Junction police spokeswoman Linda Bowman said. Those bombs also did not hurt anyone, she said.
She declined to say what states the other devices were found but said they were in places where Burke either lived or had some connection through Serco, and that the cases remain unsolved. She also said Burke had worked for Serco in Arizona and California.
“There is a great deal of probable cause to believe Mr. Burke is a primary suspect,” Bowman said.
Serco, which runs air traffic control towers including the one at Grand Junction’s airport, dismissed Burke in 2004, police said.
A Serco executive did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment Saturday night.
Bowman said Burke “apparently made vague, veiled e-mail threats in the past, but nothing that would raise an alarm like this.” She declined to elaborate on the e-mails.
Burke remained at large Saturday. Police said he may be driving an extended maroon 1999 Chevrolet Astro van with Colorado license plate 794CYB, and that he may be calling himself Robert L. Pope. Bowman said the divorced man had no criminal record in Colorado.
Discovery of the devices, and whom they were targeting, prompted officials to evacuate Grand Junction’s air traffic control tower for about an hour Friday. Denver officials temporarily assumed the tower’s duties and flight operations were not disrupted.
Tom Mangen, spokesman for the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, said the devices were especially dangerous because they included ingredients meant to spread fire.