Suspected house bomber Robert Burke captured in Utah
GRAND JUNCTION – A former air traffic controller was expected to make his first appearance in a federal courtroom in Salt Lake City on Thursday on charges he allegedly placed bombs outside five Grand Junction homes.Robert Burke, 54, who had been sought on a federal arrest warrant in the explosions of three crude bombs March 24, was arrested Wednesday in Orem, Utah. Law enforcement officers disarmed two other devices.”Wednesday, we received information from a cooperative Mesa County citizen, and that information led to a search warrant that helped authorities pinpoint Mr. Burke’s location in the Orem, Utah area,” said Grand Junction Police Department spokeswoman Linda Bowman.Burke was considered a person of interest almost from the beginning of the investigation. Bombs were placed outside the home of a Federal Aviation Administration worker, and the homes of Serco Group employees. Serco, based in the United Kingdom, is an air traffic control contractor which operates the tower at Walker Field Airport in Grand Junction.Burke was also suspected in an explosion in Murfreesboro, Tenn., in February. Nobody was injured by any of the bombs.Serco fired Burke two years ago.A man claiming to be a friend of Burke’s called The Daily Sentinel in Grand Junction to request that a reporter meet him in Provo at noon. The caller indicated Burke had information stored on a computer he wanted to make public.”We believed the person who called us was in fact Burke, and we notified authorities of our planned meeting,” said Dennis Herzog, managing editor of the newspaper.Surveillance teams working undercover discovered a vehicle Burke was believed to have been driving late Wednesday behind a Wal-Mart store. Officers confronted the man when he stepped out of the van and began walking toward the store.He identified himself as Robert Burke when questioned by authorities, who discovered a handgun inside the vehicle.Burke was arrested without incident.