ELF Claims Responsibility For Radio Tower Sabotage

http://www.kirotv.com/news/20723839/detail.html

Posted: Updated: 6:20 pm PDT September 4, 2009

SNOHOMISH, Wash. — An environmental extremist group has claimed responsibility for toppling two towers near Snohomish owned by a sports radio station.

The Earth Liberation Front group took responsibility for the act on its Web site Friday. The smaller tower stood 149 feet tall and the larger tower stood 349 feet tall.

The radio towers belonged to KRKO in Everett. The station’s president and owner, Andrew Skotdal, said the towers were brought down at about 3:30 a.m. Friday with construction equipment stolen from the site.

He said a banner emblazoned with the word ELF was left at the scene.

VIDEO BACKSTORY: Growing Tensions End In Radio Tower Attack
UNCUT: Phone Interview With ELF Spokesman

The group claimed responsibility in the firebombing of a University of Washington building in 2006, and the FBI said it estimates that ELF has committed more than 600 criminal acts in the U.S. since 1996, resulting in damages in excess of $43 million.

In a news release issued Friday afternoon, ELF cited adverse health effects, harm to wildlife and interference with home phone lines as some of the reasons for their action. Read the full release.

The FBI called the act “domestic terrorism” and said it will lead the investigation of the sabotage.

WATCH IT: FBI Calls Act ‘Domestic Terrorism’

Skotdal said the station was recently granted permits to build the two 199-foot towers in the Snohomish River Valley. Some in the community are upset about the project that has been a source of court battles and controversy for several years.

Lee Bennett leads the group that has been fighting the towers for six years. He said, “I’m not unhappy that it’s down, I am unhappy about the way that it was done.”

SLIDESHOW: Vandals Bring Down Radio Towers

“It goes to show you, people really just did not want this to happen in this valley. It’s a beautiful area and to have a farm of towers go up, it really went against everything else that was natural around here,” said Snohomish resident Elizabeth Grant.

Skotdal said he’s not convinced that ELF is responsible for the vandalism.

“It is important to note that at this time, law enforcement officials have not confirmed who is responsible for this apparent act of vandalism, and are still actively investigating the incident,” he said.

Lieutenant Rick Hawkins of the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office said calls were received from citizens who said they saw three people running from the scene. A search by police was unsuccessful.

The sign left at the scene of the vandalism. Full Story ››

Video from Chopper 7 showed the sign that read “WASSUP? SNO.CTY. ELF” and another line “(illegible word) abandon this.”

Police said the vandals stole the trackhoe from a fenced yard, broke through a fence surrounding the towers and then used the machinery to pull a main tower and a smaller tower down.

The station remains on the air and will continue to broadcast using a back-up transmitter site until the original towers are operational again, Skotdal said. Repair costs are estimated at $2 million and he said the main tower took about two months to erect.

“For the last 87 years, KRKO has been a vital part of supporting the Snohomish County emergency response network and local charities in addition to providing quality sports and community programming. We will continue to support this community for years to come. Our ability to stay on the air uninterrupted is why our station continues to play a critical role in providing timely information to the community in the event of an emergency,” Skotdal said.

A $25,000 reward is being offered by the station for any information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the individual(s) responsible. Anyone with information should call the FBI at 206-622-0460 and indicate they have a tip regarding the KRKO towers.

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