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FBI joins probe into museum fire

Associated Press, USA
Nov. 20, 2003 • Monday November 24, 2003

Tuesday morning blaze that destroyed a Holocaust museum in Terre Haute classified as an act of domestic terrorism.

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. — The FBI has joined the investigation into the fire this week that destroyed a Holocaust museum founded by an Auschwitz survivor, classifying it act as an act of domestic terrorism.

Doug Garrison, a spokesman for the FBI’s Indianapolis office, said today that investigators chose that description because of the words “Remember Timmy McVeigh” that were spraypainted on the side of the CANDLES Museum.

McVeigh, the Oklahoma City federal building bomber who shared sympathies with white supremacists, was executed at a federal prison outside Terre Haute in 2001.

The FBI is currently working with local and state police to review leads. The FBI’s classification of the case could change to a hate crime or simply arson as the investigation continues, Garrison said.

“We investigate the crime to solve it, no matter what the classification,” he said.

Investigators did not yet have any suspects in the fire that a patrolman discovered about 12:15 a.m. Tuesday, Garrison said.

All signs point to arson as the cause, as evidence of an accelerant was found and a brick was thrown through a window of the one-story brick building along U.S. 41 south of the city’s downtown, Vigo County Prosecutor Bob Wright said.

Museum officials have seen an outpouring of support — from around the community as well around the country and overseas — since the fire.

Mary Wright, the museum’s education director, said so much money has been donated that it has not yet been counted, but she estimated the total to be in the thousands.

“Basically, we’re in shock,” Wright said. “So many people are saying they want to help.”

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