Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Pipe bombs in Salt Lake (1985)

Since I've been in LA for over seven years now I don't often read my hometown newspaper anymore, but I took a moment today and read that another document has been linked to the forger Mark Hofmann. I was only a couple of blocks away when his bomb went off and he was nearly killed.

As I understand it, he made a name for himself as a collector of historical documents related to Mormon history. Some of the documents he "found" were controversial and I guess he wanted to embarrass church leaders so he created expert forgeries that purported to tell a different story than what was commonly known, the most famous being the "Salamander Letter." But a few people began to question the authenticity of some and he responded by planting a couple of pipe bombs which killed two people. I was a teenager and remember there was a seeming randomness to the victims and it made everyone nervous. You'd hear comments like "be careful what you pick up."

I was shopping with some friends the next day in the downtown malls. A lot of downtown has changed since 1985, but there was a crosswalk between the ZCMI and Crossroads malls on Main Street, mid-way between South Temple and 100 South. As we were waiting to cross we heard an explosion up Main Street. I recall seeing someone racing across Main Street above North Temple towards where the Deseret Gym used to be and where the sound had come from. Since it was what everyone was talking about we figured it must be another bomb.

We ran through Crossroads Mall to the parking lot and drove up West Temple to where it ends at the bottom of the hill below the Deseret Gym. The police and fire department were already there and we could see a burned out car about half way up the block. It looked like someone was being treated on the grass. We couldn't get any closer but the victim, of course, was Mark Hofmann blown up by his own bomb. I think he got what he deserved.

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