Pilot's Wife Apologizes to Victims

In this photo provided by Grant Abston, smoke billows from a seven-story building after a small private plane crashed into the building in Austin, Texas on Thursday Feb. 18, 2010. (AP Photo/Courtesy Grant Abston) AP Photo/Courtesy Grant Abston

Updated at 12:15 a.m. ET

The wife of the man suspected of slamming his small plane into a building housing several offices for the Internal Revenue Service expressed sorrow and sympathy for the loved ones of those who died.

Standing across the street from the fire-damaged home of Joseph Stack III, a representative for Sheryl Stack issued a statement on her behalf Friday. Rayford Walker said he had been asked by the family to distribute the statement.

"Words cannot adequately express my sorrow or the sympathy I feel for everyone affected by this unimaginable tragedy," the statement read. "Due to the ongoing investigation related to this tragedy, I feel it is best to make no comment beyond this statement and to not respond to questions of any nature."

Stack took off from an airport in Georgetown, about 30 miles from Austin, and flew low over the Austin skyline before plowing into the side of the building just before 10 a.m. Flames shot from the building, windows exploded and terrified workers rushed to get out.

(Scroll down to see Stack's plane before Thursday's crash)

Special Agent Ralph Diaz, in charge of the FBI's San Antonio office, told reporters Friday evening that the bureau was taking over the investigation from Austin police. He provided few details about Thursday's crash and wouldn't even confirm that Stack was the plane's pilot until the remains were identified.

"From our standpoint, until what we know the facts are we're not going to be speculating," Diaz told reporters.

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Photos: Austin Crash Pilot Joseph Stack

Stack's father-in-law said he knew his daughter's husband had a "hang-up" with the IRS.

Jack Cook also told The New York Times that Stack's marriage had been strained.

Cook said Stack's wife, Sheryl Stack, on Wednesday night took her daughter to a hotel to get away from Stack.

"I knew Joe had a hang-up with the IRS on account of them breaking him, taking his savings away," said Cook, the stepfather of Mr. Stack's wife. Cook, who lives in Oklahoma, said Stack's intent was to damage the government office, "not to kill people."

Cook told the Times that Stack had married his stepdaughter about three years ago. Each had been previously married. He said Stack had never spoken to him of his difficulties with the IRS, but Sheryl Stack had discussed them. She had also complained in recent weeks about Stack's increasing anger.

Stack's anger toward the IRS may have been rooted in a tax law that prevented software engineers from being independent contractors.

According to California state records, Stack had a troubled business history, twice starting software companies in California that ultimately were suspended by the state's tax board, one in 2000, the other in 2004.

The software engineer left a rambling online message against the government and the IRS before crashing his plane into an Austin building.

(KTVT-TV)
One person inside the structure, 61-year-old IRS collections agent Vernon Hunter (Pictured at left), also died in yesterday's fiery crash.

The crash happened shortly after a fire broke out at Stack's red-brick house on a tree-lined street in a middle-class neighborhood six miles from the IRS building. Arson crews were at the home today investigating.

Other investigators were at the fire-devastated building, where 13 people were also injured yesterday.

"I just thought it was unfair how an angry individual took out his anger on innocent people," Elva Liando, an IRS employee who works on the second floor, told CBS' "The Early Show" Friday.

The fiery crash wasn't the first time a protester went after an Austin IRS building.

In 1995, Charles Ray Polk plotted to bomb the IRS Austin Service Center. He was released from prison last October.

A U.S. law official said investigators were looking at an anti-government message on the Web linked to him. The Web site outlines problems with the Internal Revenue Service and says violence "is the only answer."

(Below, the airplane owned by Joseph Stack III)
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