Multiple businesses have been shut down after a bomb caused exterior damage and broken windows early Friday morning in downtown.
The blast at 2:30 a.m. Friday, July 6 didn’t injure anyone, but businesses had to close throughout the day. On Friday evening, the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, leading the investigation, confirmed the explosion is linked to an “improvised explosive device” placed outside The Hair Spital barber shop, 120 N. 8th St.
The bomb shattered windows and spread debris throughout a 1-block radius. Police Chief Mike Wilson said various levels of damage also exists throughout the business complex on the east side of N. 8th Street.
In a news release, ATF Public Information Officer John Ham said investigators are currently seeking information on a minivan, possibly a Nissan Quest made between 2004 and 2008, which surveillance footage captured in the area minutes before the device detonated.
Wilson said the scene early Friday initially presented a mystery, but after gathering dozens of pieces of evidence and conducting several witness interviews, the extraordinary facts of the bombing became clear.
“We knew right away some type of explosion had occurred,” Wilson said. “As the morning progressed, it became clear there was no accidental cause to this. We ruled out electrical, chemical, lightning, natural gas. After a thorough investigation, we concluded it to be a criminal act.”
One of the business owners said the incident, which had been expected to close her doors for at least most of the day Friday, shocked her.
“I just can’t wrap my brain around it,” Jenny Wolters of Sensational Creations said. “I just don’t understand how somebody ... I just don’t get it. I just don’t understand why someone would do that. It’s not, if, if it was an explosion or whatever, it hurts everybody that’s here ...”
Wilson and Fire Chief Ted Graf said investigators first responded at 2:30 a.m. to an automatic broken glass alarm. Wilson said some officers had already been en route to investigate the noise of the explosion when the alarm report manifested.
On Friday evening, Wilson ruled out terrorism as a motive in the case, but otherwise, the intentions of the suspect remain a mystery.
“We know what happened. We know where it happened. Why it happened is something we’ll have to work throughout the weekend on,” he said.
Wilson said he is concerned by the situation, but is confident the suspect will be caught.
“We have a person here who committed a crime, a very serious crime, and we will not relax until that person is in custody,” he said. “We are anxious to get this person.”
Should the investigation bear fruit, Wilson said, authorities have some discretion on prosecution, but have already concurred it will be referred to the U.S. Attorney for the District of Kansas.
“There’s various elements to consider, but for this, everyone agrees it will be a federal case,” Wilson said.
Graf said following an investigation, which involved the ATF, the Kansas State Fire Marshal’s Office, the Kansas Highway Patrol, the Atchison Police Department as well as the fire department, he considered the scene safe enough to escort business owners into their damaged stores to retrieve essential items.
Reports on scene indicated the businesses affected include All American Pawn, Vyve Broadband, Snowball, JW’S BOYS’ BBQ, Sensational Creations and Healing Arts Massage Studio, as well as the The Hair Spital, among others.
First Friday, downtown Atchison’s outdoor gathering for local businesses and artisans, proceeded as planned on Friday evening, according to Walls of Books manager and event organizer Karly Casey, though the damaged businesses were not able to supply ice cream and other foods as they normally do.
She urged before the event for no one to have hesitation in attending the event, centered on 8th and Commercial, the southern edge of the crime scene.
“I just want people out here,” Casey said. “It’s gonna be great.”
Please call in any information to 888-283-2662 (spells out ATF-BOMB), leave a tip at www.atf.gov/contact/atftips, or text 63975 using code ATFKC. Tipsters can remain anonymous.
If your information leads to an arrest and conviction, a $5,000 reward will be made available, the ATF said.