SAVANNAH, Ga. -- A powerful pipe bomb killed a city councilman in his law office Monday, and authorities said the device was similar to two other bombs, one that killed a federal judge in Alabama and another mailed to a federal court in Atlanta.
City Councilman Robert 'Robbie' Robinson died at Savannah Memorial Hospital at 8:25 p.m. of what hospital spokesman Michael Rowan called massive internal injuries. Rowan said Robinson lost his right arm and left hand in the explosion that ripped his midtown law office about 5:20 p.m.
The explosion occurred about eight hours after authorities in Atlanta found a bomb that was mailed to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which lost one of its judges Saturday to a bomb that exploded at his home in suburban Birmingham, Ala.
Tom Moore, an FBI spokesman in Birmingham, said investigators 'see strong similarities in the (explosive) devices,' which were described as pipe bombs.
But Bill Hinshaw, the special agent in charge of the FBI's field division in Atlanta, told a news conference in Savannah that although the devices were similar, investigators do not know if the three incidents are specifically linked.
'It's somewhat bizarre,' Hinshaw said. 'We're not assigning a link between a motive in Birmingham and a motive here (in Savannah). If it is tied, the motive is not a clear one to us at this juncture.'
John Paul, a U.S. Postal Inspector from Atlanta, confirmed the bomb at Robinson's office was delivered through the mail, but he would not say whether it was a package or letter.
Bill Clancy, the assistant agent in charge of the FBI office in Savannah said: 'We really don't know what the hell we've got.'
Robinson, a 41-year-old criminal defense lawyer who recently defended an accused cocaine trafficker, had been on the city council about eight years and was known for keeping a low profile.
'This is a very black day for the city -- a terrible tragedy that has shocked and stunned the community,' said Mayor John Rousakis. 'Robbie Robinson was a good man. He served his community well.'
Although authorities said the bombs in Savannah, Atlanta and Birmingham were similar, they had no immediate motive and no specific link between the three incidents. The FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and postal inspectors rushed to Robinson's office and began sifting through the debris.
Rousakis said authorities do not know if the bombings are possibly drug related, 'But if they are, I want this message to go to the president: It's time to declare war.'
Alderman Willie Brown, choking back tears, told reporters he was a Vietnam veteran and said: 'I thought when I left Vietnam I would not see that kind of trauma visited on any human being again.'
Brown called Robinson one of the Savannah's emerging young leaders who was 'cut down in his prime.'
The blast tossed debris from Robinson's two-story wooden office on busy Abercorn Street.
Clarence Thomas, a video cameraman with WTOC-TV, was visiting his dentist in the building next to Robinbon's when the blast occurred about 5:20 p.m.
'We head a loud 'kah-boom' that sounded like an explosion,' Thomas said. 'There was debris on the sidewalk and windows were blown out,' Thomas said, 'and the facade of the building looked distorted.'
He said Robinson appeared to be conscious when he was brought outside, 'but he was in pretty bad shape.'
Robinson, who was married about a year ago, practiced law by himself. Friends said he had a general practice and did not specialize in criminal defense work.
His office was on the second office is in what appears to an old wooden row home convered to offices.
Robinson, who is known for his quiet leadership on the city council, recently defended Bruce Giles, who was an alleged member of the Byron Lester Thompson cocaine ring.
Giles and two other defendants were acquitted, but several other defendants were convicted.