News & Politics

Austin Plane Crasher: Is This His Suicide Note? (Updated: Looks Like It Is)


They’re still trying to figure out why that guy stole took off in a plane and crashed it into an office building in Austin, Texas*.

A suicide note is being circulated that some believe was written by the pilot, though. (Update: The admin has taken the site down “in compliance with a request from the FBI”; the note is reproduced here.)

“If you’re reading this, you’re no doubt asking yourself, ‘Why did this have to happen?'” says “Joe Stack,” who grimly adds “(1956-2010)” to his name on the note dated February 18.

The provenance of the note is unconfirmed — though reports suggest the attacker was indeed one Joe Stack, and that his wife and daughter were evacuated from a fire the man set at his home this morning — but if it’s a hoax, it’s pretty good: it’s over 3,300 words long and portrays an attempted tax resister who claims to have lost “$40,000+” and “10 years of my life” fighting the IRS, and is prepared to die.

Stack asserts that anyone who stands up for the principle “no taxation without representation… is promptly labeled a ‘crackpot,’ traitor and worse.” He says he had been introduced to a “group of people who were having ‘tax code’ readings and discussions,” and together he and they “began to do exactly what the ‘big boys’ were doing (except that we weren’t steeling from our congregation or lying to the government about our massive profits in the name of God).”

He says he found in the course of this exercise that there are “two ‘interpretations’ for every law; one for the very rich, and one for the rest of us,” and was driven to impoverishment and desperation.

Among the biographical clues in the note: Stack refers to himself as a “contract software engineer” who “spent countless hours on the L.A. freeways driving to meetings” (“Bye to California, I’ll try Austin for a while”) and “lost my retirement” due to the “Texas S&L fiasco.” More recently he claims “a new marriage and a boatload of undocumented income, not to mention an expensive new business asset, a piano, which I had no idea how to handle.”

Among the people he castigates in his note: “presidential puppet GW Bush,” “sleazy New York Senator (Patrick Moynihan),” Enron, and “the vulgar, corrupt Catholic Church.”

“Well, Mr. Big Brother IRS man,” he concludes, “let’s try something different; take my pound of flesh and sleep well.
The communist creed: From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.
The capitalist creed: From each according to his gullibility, to each according to his greed.

Early reports that the the Echelon Building at 9430 Research Boulevard, where the plane struck, housed FBI offices have been disputed, but the IRS says it has several offices there, and it is suggested that the pilot was gunning for them.

* Update: KXAN-TV in Texas says the single engine Cirrus SR22 belonged to Stack, and was not stolen as earlier reports indicated. There are some injuries at the struck building but no deaths yet reported; one person scheduled to be at work there is unaccounted for.

It’s looking more and more like Stack is the perp. He’s said to have moved to Austin in 2007, and lived in California and Lincoln, Nebraska before that; his wife is musician Sheryl Stack.

Also the Twitter fight over the attacker’s ideological provenance has begun. “Did I call it or did I call it? Effing tea bagger pyscho,” says Elisa Hopper; “Anti-Christian Communist responsible for Austin Terrorist Attack,” says DivineMoments.

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