FBI Links Bombing Suspects To Explosion At Seattle Gay Bar

The three men arrested last week as suspects in an alleged bombing and murder plot by white supremacists have been connected by the FBI to a failed bombing attempt at a gay bar on Capitol Hill.

According to testimony in federal court yesterday, Jeremiah Knesal told FBI agents that he and Mark Kowaalski threw a pipe bomb down the chimney of the Elite Tavern at 622 Broadway E. on July 22, two days after Knesal said they bombed the Tacoma office of the NAACP.

Knesal's statements, disclosed during testimony by Special Agent John Zent Jr. in San Jose, Calif., U.S. District Court, were the first to indicate the alleged plot included a gay establishment as a target.

A loud explosion was heard by bar workers about 12:30 a.m., said FBI Special Agent Bill Gore of the Seattle office. It's not known how many patrons were in the bar at the time.

The chimney is not used and doesn't lead into the bar. No damage was reported. Fragments from the bomb have been sent to the FBI's laboratory in Washington, D.C.

Kowaalski, called the ringleader of the group by the FBI; Knesal and Wayne Wooten Jr. are being held without bail following court appearances yesterday.

Kowaalski, Knesal and another man - who is being sought for questioning - lived in Auburn. Wooten is from Tacoma.

U.S. Magistrate Philip Sweigert ruled in Seattle that Kowaalski, 23, should remain in King County Jail after testimony by the FBI showed enough evidence exists to ask for a grand-jury indictment against him.

The grand jury has 30 days to decide whether to indict Kowaalski, who waived his right to bail last week. He faces charges of making and possessing pipe bombs and bombing the NAACP office. If charged and convicted, he could face a maximum prison sentence of 10 years and $250,000 fines on each count.

In San Jose, Knesal, 19, and Wooten, 18, were held without bail because they are "dangerous to the community and flight risks," U.S. Magistrate Patricia Trumbull ruled.

The ruling completed a three-day hearing in which Trumbull heard testimony from Zent, army demolition experts and a Salinas police officer who arrested Knesal at a JC Penney store on suspicion of shoplifting. The arrest led police to Knesal's car, where they found pipe bombs, rifles and white-supremacy literature.

Knesal and Wooten were ordered to reappear in court next Thursday for a hearing to determine whether enough evidence exists to ask for grand-jury indictments against them.

They each face three counts of making, possessing and transporting pipe bombs. If convicted, they would face prison sentences of 10 years and $250,000 fines on each count.

Knesal is being held at the Federal Detention Center in Pleasanton, Calif.; Wooten is at the Santa Clara County Jail in San Jose.