HAMMOND — A city employee said he remains on high alert after receiving a threatening letter last month allegedly sent by a Munster man now suspected by the FBI of manufacturing a pipe bomb that detonated at an East Chicago post office.
“My wife was already worried, because we had been warned, after the first incident, to be careful about opening packages. I didn’t really think much of it. In my 60 years, I’ve gone through much of my life without making enemies,” he said Friday.
The employee, who spoke to The Times on the condition of anonymity, also said he “has no doubt” his liberal political leanings and outspoken support for Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr., a Democrat, led a 45-year-old BP engineer to allegedly threaten him with his life.
The Hammond worker received the letter Sept. 29. He said the “strange” envelope contained a bullet with a message that read, “The next one will be in the back of your head.”
“I immediately jumped to the first pipe bomb that blew up in East Chicago. I thought, ‘Whoever sent that bomb is targeting me now,’” he said.
Eric Krieg, of Munster, was arrested Thursday after a monthlong investigation by the FBI following an explosion Sept. 6 at a U.S. post office in East Chicago.
He is charged with being in possession of an explosive device and transporting explosive materials, according to a criminal complaint filed in federal court Thursday.
Krieg has been an outspoken critic of the Lake County Democratic Party and McDermott, Times archives show.
According to the complaint, FBI officials discovered the targeted worker made derogatory comments online directed at Krieg — back in October 2013 — about an editorial Krieg published in a local newspaper.
“Never in my wildest dreams. I didn’t think about this guy until the FBI came here (Oct. 2) and asked ‘What about this guy?’” he said. “I mean, if you look at the posts themselves, the exchange between Krieg and I, they date back to 2013. That’s the end of that.”
He and Krieg worked at the same company years ago, but the two never met, he said.
“It’s one thing to hide behind a keyboard on social media, but this is another thing completely,” he said. “Your average person just wants to get up, go to work, live in safe neighborhoods, make enough to pay the bills. I mean, how do you go from that to mailing bombs and bullets?”
He said he believes the mailing and the pipe bomb were politically motivated and that he was targeted for expressing his political views.
He said he fears speaking up in coming weeks in support of the school district’s new high school referendum, which is set for a vote Nov. 7.
“Am I not supposed to be involved?” he said. “Now I’m supposed to be intimated?”
The pipe bomb Krieg allegedly sent Sept. 6 to a contract vendor for the city of Hammond never made it to its intended target, but instead exploded at a U.S. post office in East Chicago, injuring one postal worker, authorities have said.
The pipe bomb was intended for an individual who represented the mayor’s brother, Aaron McDermott, in a defamation lawsuit filed against Krieg, the complaint states.