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Drug Defendant Believed Dead, 5 Hurt by Bomb at Courthouse

April 15, 1987|Associated Press

KOKOMO, Ind. — A man on trial on drug dealing charges was believed killed Tuesday when a briefcase he was carrying exploded in the Howard County courthouse, injuring at least five others, including the sheriff, officers said.

The defendant, Robert Gray of Marion, was "believed to be dead" in the blast, prosecutor James Andrews said at a news conference. However, he refused to comment further, and other officials would not comment.

Police said the courthouse was sealed because they feared that more explosives might be inside. Authorities also feared that the building had suffered severe structural damage that could endanger searchers.

Andrews said confirmation of a fatality would come only after the county coroner was allowed into the blast site, but by evening the coroner still had not been allowed into the building.

Andrews said Gray had the briefcase with him when he went into Sheriff John Beatty's office with his attorney shortly before his trial was to resume about 2 p.m.

The prosecutor said authorities had expressed "some concern about that briefcase," which was near Beatty when the explosion occurred.

Katherine Walsh-Miller, a spokeswoman for Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis, said Beatty was in serious but stable condition and would undergo surgery "to clean the wounds."

She said Beatty suffered numerous burns and embedded fragments of metal on his torso, arms and legs, and multiple lacerations.

The others injured were listed in good or fair condition at St. Joseph Hospital in Kokomo, spokeswoman Mary Lindgran said. Gray's attorney, Charles Scruggs, was listed in fair condition.

Gray was on trial on two counts of dealing in controlled substances. He had been accused of selling LSD to undercover agents in 1983.

His trial had started Tuesday morning, and the jury had returned to the jury room from lunch when the bomb went off.

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