On July 18, Apex Supply Co.-employee, Tracy Kilgroe-Bishop, was the target of the letter bomb. She suffered minor burns on her hands and face when the package exploded in the mailroom at Apex Supply's headquarters office in, Atlanta, Ga., according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. A female co-worker who was standing nearby was briefly blinded by the debris, the newspaper said.
Christopher Joseph Bishop, Kilgroe-Bishop's ex-husband, now of Seattle, has confessed to creating and mailing letter bombs to two Apex Supply locations and described his motive as "personal animosity" toward his ex-wife, according to an affidavit by John Paul, special agent with the U.S. Treasury Department, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, filed in U.S. District Court in the northern district of Georgia.
The box addressed to Kilgroe-Bishop had a typewritten label with a return address of the corporate office of The Home Depot, parent company of Apex Supply. It was postmarked Norcross, Ga., and arrived in the morning mail on July 18.
A threat letter inside the package contained words to the effect, "This is all your fault," and a note on the charge itself had wording to the effect, "You are the weakest link, goodbye," Paul said in the affidavit. Following the explosion, the building was evacuated and the search for the sender began.
"We have 183 people in this building," said Clyde Rodbell, chairman of Apex Supply. "They reacted as well as we could hope. We had procedures in place, but we never expected this kind of situation."
The wholesaler was visited by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. postal inspectors, ATF agents, the Fire Department, the Bomb Squad and the County Sheriff's Department, Rodbell said. "We must have had 60 people here and they all cooperated with each other," he said.
The headquarters facility was closed for the remainder of the day on July 18. Later that day another letter bomb was delivered by U.S. mail to Apex Supply's branch in Lawrenceville, Ga. The package was opened at 3:50 p.m., resulting in a flash fire at that location, but no one was injured, according to the affidavit.
Based on questioning of the victim, federal agents and state and local police officers visited the home of the suspect's parents, where they discovered numerous items similar to those used in the destructive devices. Bishop was contacted at a hotel in Waco, Texas, where he was interviewed and his room was searched, yielding further evidence. He confessed to creating and mailing both letter bombs, and said he sent the second device to another Apex location as a decoy to avoid suspicion.
In his confession, he said he was frustrated over visitation rights with his daughter, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
"It's a great relief," Rodbell said. "Nobody was badly hurt and the authorities were able to catch this guy in less than 24 hours. We have tried to make it clear that this had nothing to do with the company. It was a personal issue between an ex-husband and one of our associates. She is doing well and the other injured employee is back at work."
He expressed gratitude to Home Depot for its assistance, which included recommending a counselor who spoke to the Apex employees and was available for individual counseling.
"It is very clear this was a singular act on the part of this individual and not directed at Home Depot or Apex Supply Co.," Apex Supply said in a statement. "As a result of this incident we are increasing our internal precautions at all of the company's locations."
Asked what advice he has for other wholesalers after this experience, Rodbell said, "Everybody needs to be careful. We live in a strange world where strange things happen.
We are pleased that nobody was seriously hurt and that the perpetrator was caught quickly, so we can put the incident behind us and get back to the business of serving our customers."