LA CROSSE, Wis. -- Six trip-wired pipe bombs have been found scattered around town in less than 24 hours and police Saturday said they suspected they would find more before the 'oddball' case is solved.
None of the bombs exploded, but one man suffered burns on his leg when he tripped the first bomb at 10 a.m. CDT Friday and it fizzled.
A group calling itself the 'North Central Gay Strike Force against Public and Police Oppression' claimed responsibility for at least three of six pipe bombs, but Police Chief William Reynolds said authorities never heard of the group and he suspected the bombs were planted by one person.
'The kind of person we're dealing with is rather spineless, a coward who operates in the dark,' Reynolds said. 'This is his way of publicizing ... a cause, if he has one, which I seriously doubt. Now that the heat is on, these people fade from sight because they're not willing to stand up to face serious issues.'
Reynolds said authorities expected to find more bombs and were investigating a possible link with bombs found earlier this month in Eau Claire and Chippewa Falls, adding that a pattern had been set.
'There is something oddball about ours that is also oddball about theirs,' he said.
'We have some fairly good leads at this time,' he said.
The hand-printed notes found with three of the bombs read 'Violence by your North Central Gay Strike Force against Public and Police Oppression' and the words, 'Wisconsin, North and South Dakota, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan and Illinois.'
Police Lt. James Dunham said the bombs were about 6 inches long and had a metal cap in one end and a wax plug in the other. They were filled with black explosive powder and metal objects such as screws, nails, nuts and bolts and wrapped in white cloth and rubber bands. The bombs were capped at one end and had tissue and wadding at the other.
Reynolds said the bombs were detonated electrically from the string protruding from one end -- but wet weather or poor construction may have kept the bombs from exploding.
Five pipe bombs were found Friday at various sites -- including at the bottom of a playground slide. A Northern States Power Co. employee on a service call at about 10 a.m. CDT Friday at St. Joseph the Workman Cathedral tripped the first bomb, tied to the top step outside the church, where a service was being held.
'It scared me.' John De George said. 'It hurt. I'm lucky I have heavy shoes on.'
A sixth bomb discovered just before 6 a.m. CDT Saturday outside the state driver's license examination office on the south side was apparently triggered by a dog, police said.
U.S. Marshal Gene Abdallah in Sioux Falls, S.D., said he was concerned that South Dakota was mentioned in the note.
'Whenever you mention bombs, it's always serious,' he said.
He said agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms likely will try to coordinate an investigation from all the states mentioned in the note.
A letter carrier found the second bomb about 1 p.m. Friday when he tripped the trigger line tied to a utility pole across a residential sidewalk about 10 blocks from the cathedral.
A smaller but similar bomb was found tied to the base of a slide in a play area on the city's far south side, about 3 miles from the cathedral. The fourth bomb was found at 4:30 p.m. hanging from a window ledge in the downtown area, about three blocks from the cathedral. The fifth bomb was found about 8:15 p.m. about a block from where the letter carrier found the second bomb.