Arrest In FAMU Bombings

Early Friday morning FBI agents arrested an unemployed white man in connection with the recent bombings at Florida A&M University.

After a month of fear, students at the predominantly black college may begin to feel safe again.

Lawrence Michael Lombardi, 41, of Tallahassee, a former vending machine company employee, married and the father of two children, was arrested at his home about 4:30 a.m. ET, said FBI agent Tom Kneir.

Lombardi was initially held on a single count of manufacturing a bomb, pending formal charges later, said Kneir.

The F.B.I. says Lawrence Michael Lombardi was recognized in a surveillance tape buying the pipe used in the blasts. He is being held without bail on two counts of manufacturing a bomb. He could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

His attorney says Lombardi is "absolutely innocent."

No one was injured in either blast at the predominantly black school.

An F.B.I. agent says Lombardi denied building any bombs but admitted to making a phone call tinged with racist comments to a Tallahassee T-V station hours after the second bomb went off September 22nd.

Although officials wouldn't say whether Lombardi was part of a larger group, they were reassuring to a point.

"The arrest of Mr. Lombardi should certainly restore a sense of normalcy and a sense of security," said Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Tim Moore.

Nevertheless, officials said some extra security, including recently installed surveillance cameras, would remain intact at the school.

"Unfortunately, once the genie is out of the bottle, it can't be put back in," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Patterson. "Days when we thought this couldn't happen here are gone."

Florida A&M students are safer now, they hope.


Officials said a surveillance photograph of a man shopping at a home-improvement store, released to the public, and a tape of threatening phone calls led to tips from the public, which then led them to the arrest.

A search warrant was served at Lombardi's house before FBI and FDLE agents took him into custody. Police said they seized items from the home but refused to comment on what they were.

Two small explosions have gone off at the campus since Aug. 31, and a caller spouting racist epithets promised more.

No one was injured in either blast, but racist telephone calls accompanied each incident, spreading fear on the 12,000-student campus.

The caller also warned of future attacks. The FBI said this week that one call said another incident would happen Friday.

Campus police said every building at the school was being searched every morning.

Locl, state and federal investigators descended en masse on the hilltop campus in Tallahassee after the first blast.

The FBI released a surveillance camera photo Thursday of a man they said has information about the case, but said the man wasn't a suspect.

The man was photographed buying something at a local Lowe's home store on the day before the first blast.

The first blast was on a Tuesday morning, when a small device went off in a men's room at an administration building 10 minutes after a warning was called in. Damage was very minor.

The second, larger than the first, was on Wednesday Sept. 22. Again, damage was minor.

Several campus buildings were evacuated after each blast.

The first blast was accompanied by a warning called into a television station that it was "just the beginning, brother."

After the second call, the television station, received a longer diatribe.

"FAMU has seen the beginning of this...they got no business having a college where there ain't nobody...smart enough to get a degree," the caller said.

  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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