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Men charged with planting IRS bomb IRS bomb suspects unlike terrorists, friends say

December 31, 1995
Web posted at: 9:00 p.m. EST

From Correspondent Rusty Dornin

GARDNERVILLE, Nevada (CNN) -- It's a tale of two men, one called a radical, the other described as man with few opinions about anything.

The men, Joseph Martin Bailie, 40, and Ellis Edward Hurst, 52, both of Gardnerville, are charged with planting a bomb in front of an IRS building in Reno on December 18. The 100-pound bomb, left in a plastic barrel near the building, failed to explode.

Those who know the men and their town struggled to understand what may have led them to try to blow up a federal building.

Mike Nixon

"With Ellis I was surprised. With Joe it didn't really shock me."

-- Mike Nixon,
a former co-worker of both men
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Both suspects worked previously for a construction company in Gardnerville, a suburb of Reno and Carson City.

Bailie often boasted that taxes were not something he had to pay. He "didn't have a lot of love for the government as a whole," Nixon said.

Steve Hollister

"The subject may have come up as far as talking about taxes, but there was never any indication of anything like this. It's a shock."

-- Steve Hollister, another former co-worker
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Components of the bomb, later blown up in the desert, (1.8M QuickTime movie) led federal agents to Hurst. Last week, according to agents, Hurst confessed. He allegedly said he and Bailie drove the bomb to the building in a pickup truck.

Rancher John Henningsen said lots of people in Gardnerville have anti-government feelings, but he never heard anything from his next door neighbor Hurst.

"He seemed like a quiet person, not a man who would cause trouble," Henningsen said.

the bomb left outside

Authorities said nothing indicates a connection between the December 18 attempted bombing and a series of bombing attacks against federal officials in Nevada since 1993. And federal officials decline to disclose whether there is any evidence linking the men to suspected militia groups.

For years in west-central Nevada, there have been reports of anti-government groups with names like Posse Comatatus and Pinenut Militia. Little is know about the organizations or whether they even exist at all.

"We do not have a Posse Comatatus, per se, an organized group that meets every Thursday night down at the local tavern," said Douglas County Sheriff Jerry Maple

But local law enforcement officials say there are people whose views hearken back to the days of the Wild West where the only man in charge is the county sheriff.

"I've had people come up to me and say, 'If NATO and the U.N. send troops into Gardnerville because of a militia or a citizens' uprising, are you going to subordinate yourself to a military general or are you going to run them out of town?'" Maple said.

The plot to bomb the IRS building angered many Nevadans, including those who may not like the government but resent a violent act that could have killed innocent people.


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