Bomb suspected in W. Memphis blast | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Bomb suspected in W. Memphis blast

Posted By on Wed, Feb 4, 2009 at 1:40 PM

UPDATED

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Dr. Trent Pierce of West Memphis, chairman of the Arkansas Medical Board, was critically injured when his Lexus SUV hybrid exploded in the driveway of his home about 8 a.m. today. The  family practitioner, who was appointed to the Medical Board in 1997, was taken to a Memphis hospital where he was listed in critical condition. 

A federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms spokesman told Fox 16 (which posted the photo of Pierce) that an explosive device was found in the car. Police say they believe he was outside the car when it blew up as he prepared to go to work.

Police tell us Pierce was lying outside the car when emergency workers arrived.  It was such a violent explosion it was heard a mile away from his home at North Avalon and Cooper, the police said. His wife found him and called police. WMC in Memphis reports Pierce was being treated for shrapnel in his abdomen, eye injuries and burns.

Bomb squad and federal Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents are investigating. The explosion destroyed the front of the car on the driver's side. Police said they'd never had a report of any problems from Pierce and Internet searches about him turn up his involvement mostly in routine Medical Board matters, along with occasional testimony in workers comp and other legal proceedings. Some of the most controversial cases of recent years have been Medical Board investigations of doctors for over-prescribing painkillers. These hearings have sometimes been attended by patients unhappy about actions taken against their doctors. But there's never been a suggestion of threats related to these cases.

Pierce specialized in asthma treatment.

FBI confirms bomb. Re the reference in the statement to two injuries: The West Memphis police chief said there was only one injury, to the doctor, but speculated that the idea of second injury may have arisen because Mrs. Pierce accompanied her husband to the hospital.

The police chief set off alarms all over the national security apparatus with the following quote, widely circulated on the web, about a "terrorist attack":

“It’s a terrorist attack on Dr. Pierce, and we just don’t know why someone would do this,” the police chief, Robert Paudert, told reporters who gathered down the street from Dr. Pierce’s house. “We don’t know if it was a random act, or someone specifically targeted him.”

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