Several people questioned in FBI van theft; some weapons recovered
June 4, 1997
MEMPHIS, Tennessee (CNN) -- Several people were being questioned Wednesday about the theft of an FBI van carrying an arsenal of weapons, and police apparently recovered grenade launchers from a site near where the abandoned van was found.
An undisclosed number of "suspects and witnesses" were taken into custody for questioning by Memphis police, but no one had been charged, a Memphis investigator and an FBI source told CNN.
The GMC Suburban, laden with two grenade launchers, seven M-16 automatic rifles, several other guns and thousands of rounds of ammunition, was stolen Tuesday from the parking lot of a Memphis motel where FBI agents were taking part in an anti-terrorism training exercise.
The burned-out vehicle was found in another section of Memphis, but the weapons and ammunition were gone.
Memphis police were seen carrying a box of grenade launchers they apparently recovered from an area near where the abandoned van was discovered. Police were still searching the area Wednesday evening.
The FBI source said good progress had been made in the investigation and several promising leads were being followed.
The theft proved an untimely embarrassment for the FBI. The agency has been dogged for months by criticism over alleged sloppiness at its crime laboratory and its failure to solve the bombing at Centennial Olympic Park during the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta.
The FBI had hoped to dispel some of the criticism with praise for the investigative work that led to the conviction Monday of Timothy McVeigh in the Oklahoma City bombing.
FBI Director Louis Freeh said Wednesday that the agency was determined to recover the stolen arsenal.
"We certainly have put on a full-court press to try to retrieve these weapons, which are very dangerous," Freeh told the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The bureau also will look into whether the agents responsible for the van violated any regulations.
Related site:Note: Page will open in a new browser window
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.
© 1997 Cable News Network, Inc.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.