30 years later, IRS employee recalls bomb attack in Fresno

This April 1st marks the 30th anniversary of an explosive attack on Fresno's Internal Revenue Service Office.

Video Transcript

WARREN ARMSTRONG: This April 1st marks the 30 year anniversary of an explosive attack on Fresno's Internal Revenue service office. The 1991 assault was like a scene ripped right from the big screen.

MARGOT KIM: In an act of revenge, an angered aerospace engineer launched more than a dozen pipe bombs at the IRS building in South East Fresno. Action News reporter Gilbert Magallon is here in the studio after speaking to a former employee, who was inside when those pipe bombs went off. Gilbert.

GILBERT MAGALLON: Well, Warren and Margot, former IRS employee Kris Clark says 30 years later, she still vividly remembers the feelings of fear that overtook her that day. The pipe bombs never made it inside the building, but five of them were detonated just outside of the facility. Another was launched onto the roof that could have went off.

April 1, 1991 was just like any other day for tax examiner Kris Clark. She reported to work at the Internal Revenue Service office on Butler and Peach. While, at her desk, Clark was startled by a loud noise just outside the facility.

KRIS CLARK: And all of a sudden, boom, you heard all the explosion.

GILBERT MAGALLON: It was April Fool's Day, but this was no joke. Chaos ensued as pipe bombs were launched towards the building.

KRIS CLARK: I just hope that I'm going to be OK and nothing else happens, and I can get out of the building.

GILBERT MAGALLON: Authorities discovered the attacker Aerospace Engineer Dean Harvey Hicks hurled approximately 13 bombs at the facility from a distance. Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer was a police officer at the time and responded to the call.

JERRY DYER: There was a launching pad that was about 100 yards away that was utilized to launch these pipe bombs into the parking lot onto the roof of the facility. Five of the bombs went off in front of the IRS as neighbors watched from the sidewalk.

- And I looked over the fence and all I saw was that the gas main, the pipe was on fire. And it was a lot of black smoke. And the flames were reaching up to the roof.

GILBERT MAGALLON: FBI agents believe Hicks targeted the IRS out of anger, because the agency would not allow him to deduct $8,000 he donated to a church from his tax return. Investigators traced the bomb materials to Hicks, leading to his arrest. Incredibly, no one was hurt.

KRIS CLARK: I'm just glad that others in the building and some cars got damaged and nobody got physically damaged. That's what I was glad about.

GILBERT MAGALLON: Now Hicks pled guilty to the attack in Fresno as well as three other bombing attempts at IRS facilities in Southern California. He served 20 years in prison and was ordered to pay $380,000 in fines and restitution fees. In the studio, Gilbert Magallon, ABC 30 Action News.