Injured man still critical after Plano neighborhood blast

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by CYNTHIA VEGA and STEVE STOLER

WFAA

Posted on June 18, 2012 at 8:53 AM

Updated Tuesday, Jun 19 at 7:27 AM

Gas line tampering probe

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PLANO — Police in Plano are still working to piece together a strange sequence of events that began just before midnight Sunday and has led to FBI involvement.

Investigators said they suspect that a man hospitalized with potentially life-threatening injuries may have set off an explosive device in the 3600 block of West Parker Road overnight.

The incident began with 911 calls about gunshots heard in the area. When police arrived at the scene, they said neighbors reported hearing the sound of a bomb going off — rattling windows and nerves.

If you were in the Army and threw a grenade, that's what it sounded like," said Scott Percourt, who lives across the street.

When police arrived, they found neighbors tending to a severely injured man, who claimed he was hit by a car.

One neighbor who did not wish to be identified told News 8 she heard the explosion, went outside, and discovered the man stumbling, bleeding profusely, and screaming for help.

"I could tell he was bleeding, so I told him to turn over and lay down," the woman said. "I just tried to talk with him a little bit and calm him down."

Police said the injured man told them he was jogging when he was struck by a car that fled the scene. He was rushed to a nearby hospital with injuries to his face and upper body.

Investigators determined the man's story didn't match his injuries.

They called Atmos Energy when they heard a hissing sound coming from a natural gas pressure control station. But FBI agents and Atmos inspectors found no evidence of tampering.

They did, however, find shrapnel in the fence behind the pipes. The fence was removed to examine for evidence.

Police believe the man, who neighbors describe in his early 20s, may have deliberately set off an explosive device near the gas pipes.

Police are frustrated. The injured man — who is still in critical condition — did not have any identification. They don't know what his intent was, nor has it been determined what type of device was used.

They are hoping his condition will improve enough to get some answers.

Gas company officials said the pressure control system was never compromised in any way. They said the above ground station enables them to reduce gas pressure coming into the neighborhood as needed. Because of other gas lines supplying it below ground, neighbors never experienced an interruption in their service.

A spokesman for Atmos Energy told News 8 the pressure control centers are found in every city. This one, located relatively close to West Parker Road, is surrounded by a strong metal railing system to protect it from drivers going by just a few feet away.

The spokesman said the pressure control system has to be above ground to give crews access to it as needed. The stations are also called District Regulator Stations.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is leading the investigation. Plano police said the FBI is immediately alerted whenever the bomb team is called to a scene.

E-mail cvega@wfaa.com and sstoler@wfaa.com

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