Almost a year and a half after a pipe bomb exploded at the Yale Law School on May 21, 2003, the New Haven FBI shows no signs of nearing an arrest.
While the FBI is still conducting an active investigation of the case, no significant progress or potential suspects have been announced. Four houses were searched in the weeks after the bombing, but it appears investigators no longer think the houses’ residents were involved in the bombing.
Kevin O’Connor, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, said a reenactment of the explosion was held over the summer at an abandoned property, but the attorney’s office would not release information about who staged the reenactment or what the results of the experiment were. O’Connor said this process of investigation sometimes lasts many years and demands patience.
“If you have these type of events, they’re very difficult cases and involve a lot of forensics work,” he said.
Many faculty and students at the law school agree that the FBI has done everything in its power to pursue the case and ensure a secure environment. Janet Conroy, the Law School’s spokeswoman, said there is no sense the investigation has been stalled or the Law School faculty has been kept out of the loop.
“I don’t think anyone finds that there is anything that hasn’t already been done,” Conroy said. “We have no reason to believe that someone has a vendetta against us.”
Updated security measures, such as placing more guards in the hallways and restricting the High Street entrance to valid ID cardholders, serve as a source of reassurance that measures have been taken to prevent such an incident from happening again, students said.
Rahael Seifu LAW ’07 said the news of the Law School bombing did not factor into her decision to attend Yale and that she has never felt unsafe while in the Law School building.
“I’d like to know more about the specific circumstances surrounding the case, but I think it’s pretty generally accepted around here that something like that is not going to happen again,” she said.
Although no such incidents have occurred since the bombing, rumors of a bomb threat spread through the Law School last month. Martin Tomlinson LAW ’07 said he had not thought twice about the bombing until he heard about the recent threat.
“It kind of raised the thought in my mind that it could have been the same person, and that was kind of scary,” Tomlinson said.
Johna Pompano, a cook at the Law School grill who was present at the time of the bombing, said although many employees saw the event take place, including herself, the police only questioned a few of them.
“What if one of us had seen someone run away but the police just never asked?” Pompano said. “I don’t know that they’ve done everything they can to complete this investigation.”
The day after the bombing occurred, the New Haven FBI claimed responsibility for the investigation and told the New Haven Police Department that it should have no part in the investigation, NHPD spokeswoman Bonnie Winchester said. The FBI directed all inquiries about the case to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, which, according to its official statement, still regards the case as an “ongoing investigation.”
“We’re certainly not discouraged, though obviously we’d like to prosecute someone,” O’Connor said. “But we’ve got to keep dotting our I’s and crossing our T’s.”