Forty-eight years ago, at 2:07 a.m. on August 17, 1970, a bomb exploded in the face of Omaha Patrolman Larry Minard who was examining an abandoned suitcase in a vacant house. Minard and seven others were responding to an emergency 911 call about a woman screaming. The Federal Bureau of Investigation was called soon after the blast and was running license plate checks and calling informants before dawn.
Detective Jack Swanson arrived at a stakeout watching a suspect’s house. Richard Gibson was a man of interest to Swanson according to a police report until an early-morning call from the FBI cleared Gibson. “At this time, we were contacted by agents of the FBI who stated they had talked with Gibson at this time.”
A telephone call was made to FBI headquarters from the Omaha office at 7:45 a.m. Assistant Director Charles Brennan was informed by memorandum about the call concerning the death of a policeman. “Omaha Office offered assistance in covering out-of-state leads and FBI Laboratory facilities offered. Omaha advised it had notified military and Secret Service, was following closely, and alerted its racial informants in pursuit of investigation.”
Brennan was also assured, “Pertinent parts will be included in teletype summary to the White House, Vice President, Attorney General, military and Secret Service.”
FBI Special Agent in Charge Paul Young wasted no time in privately talking to Deputy Chief Glen Gates, who was in charge of the police while Chief Richard Anderson was out of town. According to a confidential FBI memorandum, Young and Gates discussed a piece of crucial evidence, the recorded voice of the anonymous caller captured by the 911 system. The search for truth was over.
Young set in motion a conspiracy to implicate the leadership of the National Committee to Combat Fascism in the bombing. Young wrote to J. Edgar Hoover. “Enclosed for the Laboratory is one copy of a tape recording obtained from the Omaha Police Department.”
“The enclosed tape was recorded from an existing tape recording used by the Omaha Police Department in their normal emergency telephone calls.”
“Deputy Chief Gates inquired into the possibility of voice analysis of the individual making the call by the FBI Laboratory. He was advised the matter would be considered and that if such analysis were made and if subsequent voice patterns were transmitted for comparison, such analysis would have to be strictly informal, as the FBI could not provide any testimony in the matter; also, only an oral report of the results of such examination would be made to the Police Department. Gates stated he understood these terms and stated the Police Department would be extremely appreciative of any assistance in this matter by the FBI and would not embarrass the FBI at a later date, but would use such information for lead purposes only.”
“It should be noted that the police community is extremely upset over this apparent racially motivated, vicious and unnecessary murder. In slightly over three months this division has experienced more than ten bombings, probably all but a few of them being racially motivated. Of these bombings, four were directed at police facilities with extensive damage.”
“Any assistance rendered along the lines mentioned above would greatly enhance the prestige of the FBI among law enforcement representatives in this area, and I thus strongly recommend that the request be favorably considered.”
The 911 recording was sent to the FBI Laboratory for testing that was called off a week later after J. Edgar Hoover ordered no lab report be made. Although the FBI returned the tape to Omaha police it was never shared with defense attorneys. The jury that convicted Black Panther leaders Edward Poindexter and Wopashitwe Mondo Eyen we Langa, then David Rice, never heard the voice of a killer that lured Larry Minard to his death. J. Edgar Hoover knew that a policeman’s killer would away with murder in order to convict Poindexter and Mondo.
Mondo died in March 2016 at the maximum-security Nebraska State Penitentiary where he was serving a life without parole sentence. Poindexter remains imprisoned proclaiming his innocence.
This article contains excerpts from my book on the bombing entitled FRAMED: J. Edgar Hoover, COINTELPRO, & the Omaha Two story, available in print edition at Amazon and ebook format at Kindle.