News Column

Texas Senator's Office Attacked With Incendiary Devices

March 21, 2012

Marty Sabota

Incendiary devices tossed at the Fort Worth district office of Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis Tuesday afternoon started a small fire that charred the front door, officials said.

One of Davis' "quick-thinking" staffers doused the flames with a fire extinguisher, Davis said Tuesday night at a news conference outside the office on West Seventh Street.

No one was injured, but it was "alarming and very scary," she said.

A building maintenance worker chased a man but could not catch him, authorities said. Investigators did not have a description of the man and could not confirm reports that the devices were Molotov cocktails, Fire Capt. Tom Crow said.

The Fire Department has begun an arson investigation with the help of Fort Worth police and state troopers, fire officials said.

Anthony Spangler, Davis' communications director, said a staffer in the third-floor suite in the So7 development heard a thud at the door and opened it to find flames about waist high. The employee "jumped over the flames that were blocking the doorway" to escape the office, get a fire extinguisher and put out the fire, he said.

A pile of bottles was found outside the door, Spangler said. "We have no idea" what motivated the attack, he said.

"We have an office that's open to the public all the time, and so we're always potentially vulnerable to things like this," he said. "We're thankful that no one was injured. We hope that the investigation is concluded quickly and that they identify the suspect."

Firefighters responded at 4:03 p.m. to an automatic fire alarm, Crow said. The fire was relatively small and did not get inside the office.

Davis was at her law office in downtown Fort Worth at the time.

She said that no motive was apparent and that it would be premature to speculate whether her positions on any issue could have been a catalyst for the attack.

"Texas is facing some tremendous challenges right now," Davis said. "It's unfortunate when things like this happen in the public arena, and it reminds us of how important it is for us to remain very civil in our discourse."

Davis, a Democrat, recently emerged from a bruising redistricting fight with Texas Republicans with the makeup of her District 10 intact. She faces a tough re-election battle against state Rep. Mark Shelton, R-Fort Worth.

She said her office would reopen as usual this morning.

Davis said when she heard of the attack, she thought of the January 2011 shootings in Arizona in which six people were killed and U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and 13 others were wounded.

"It's a sad but true fact of public service that we have to feel concerned sometimes for our personal safety," Davis said. "But we can't let that stop us."

Spangler said the Texas Department of Public Safety was called into the arson investigation because of Davis' political office.

Source: (c) 2012 the Fort Worth Star-Telegram

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