Incident Summary:

05/04/2002: Between the dates of May 3-7, 2002, eighteen pipe bombs were found in rural mailboxes in five Midwestern states in the U.S.A, collectively causing seven injuries and leading to widespread panic in the region. Most of the explosives came with typewritten notes that bemoaned the power of the government and threatened more attacks. In the incidents that occurred on May 4-5, 2002, seven bombs were found in mailboxes in the southern and central counties of Nebraska. None of these bombs detonated and no injuries were suffered. On May 7, 2002, the FBI and Nevada state authorities arrested Luke Helder, a 21-year-old college student, who confessed to being responsible for all of the bombs.



United States

North America

region/u.s. state:



Attack Information
Type of Attack (more) Bombing/Explosion
Successful Attack? (more) No
Target Information (more)
Target Type: Government (General)
Name of Entity U.S. Postal Service
Specific Description US Mail Boxes
Nationality of Target United States
Target Type: Private Citizens & Property
Name of Entity Civilians
Specific Description Civilians in the United States Midwest
Nationality of Target United States
Additional Information
Hostages No
Ransom No
Property Damage No
Weapon Information
Type Sub-type
Explosives/Bombs/Dynamite Pressure Trigger
Weapon Details
The pipe bombs were assembled with steel pipes and attached to nine-volt batteries and most were accompanied by antigovernment notes. Unlike the first set, this bomb was not rigged to the mailbox and did not detonate.
Additional Information
Suicide Attack?No
Part of Multiple Incident?Yes
Criterion 1 (more) Yes
Criterion 2 (more) Yes
Criterion 3 (more) Yes
Doubt Terrorism Proper (more) Yes
Alternate Designation (more) Other Crime Type
Perpetrator Group Information
Group Name Claimed Responsibility
Anti-Government extremists Yes (Confirmed: Unknown; Mode: Personal claim)
Perpetrator Statistics
Number of Perpetrators 1
Number of Captured Perpetrators 1
Casualty Information
Total Number of Casualties 0 Fatalities / 0 Injured
Total Number of Fatalities 0
Number of U.S. Fatalities 0
Number of Perpetrator Fatalities 0
Total Number of Injured 0
Number of U.S. Injured 0
Number of Perpetrators Injured 0
"Crime: Pipe Bombs Strike Mailboxes in Midwest," Facts on File World News Digest, May 15, 2002.
"Student, 21, Is Arrested in Nevada in 5-State Bombing Spree." New York Times, May 8, 2002.
"More pipe bombs found in mailboxes throughout Midwest," ABC News, May 6, 2002.