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Pilot Crashes Plane Into Texas Building Over IRS Woes

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FOX News: A pilot furious with the Internal Revenue Service crashed his small plane Thursday into an office building in Austin, Texas, that houses federal tax employees, setting off a raging fire.

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Officials are investigating whether the pilot, identified by authorities as Joseph Andrew Stack, a 53-year-old software engineer who lived in Texas, crashed the plane intentionally. Stack was confirmed dead.

An Internal Revenue Service office is located inside the building. About 190 IRS employees work in the building, and IRS spokesman Richard C. Sanford said the agency is trying to account for all of its workers.

IRS Agent William Winnie said he was on the third floor of the building when he saw a light-colored, single engine plane coming towards the building, TheStatesman.com reported.

"It looked like it was coming right in my window," Winnie said, according to the Web site.

Winnie said the plane veered down and smashed into the lower floors. "I didn't lose my footing, but it was enough to knock people who were sitting to the floor."

Stack posted a suicide note to a social media Web site, ranting against the IRS, officials confirmed.

"If you're reading this, you're no doubt asking yourself, "Why did this have to happen?'" the note read. "The simple truth is that it is complicated and has been coming for a long time...

"Violence not only is the answer, it is the only answer...

"I saw it written once that the definition of insanity is repeating the same process over and over and expecting the outcome to suddenly be different. I am finally ready to stop this insanity. Well, Mr. Big Brother IRS man, let's try something different; take my pound of flesh and sleep well," the note, dated Thursday, reads.

The small single-engine plane crashed into a seven-story office building in Austin around 10 a.m. local time Thursday.

Stack took off in a Piper Cherokee from Georgetown Municipal Airport in Texas at 9:40 a.m. Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Lynn Lunsford said the pilot didn't file a flight plan.

Harry Evans, an assistant chief with the Austin Fire Department, said one person from the building was unaccounted for and that two people had been taken to a hospital.

"There may be other injuries, we are unsure at this time," Evans said during a news conference Thursday.

The Department of Homeland Security said Thursday it does not believe the crash was an act of terrorism.

"This is an isolated incident, there is no cause for alarm," a spokesman for the Austin Police Department said during a news conference.

The office fire is contained and police said the situation is "totally contained."

President Obama was briefed on the incident.

Stuart Newberg, who was in the area right before the crash, said the plane was flying low and fast, according to The Statesman.com.

"It was flying low and fast and I did a double take," Newberg said, according to the Web site.

"I thought it was a play remote control plane. Then I saw the smoke."

He told the paper he thought the plane seemed "very controlled."

In a neighborhood about six miles from the crash site, a home listed as belonging to Stack was on fire earlier Thursday. Two law enforcement officials said Stack had apparently set fire to his home before the suicidal plane flight.

MyFoxAustin.com said firefighters reported that the entire house was engulfed in flames, including the fence, when they arrived on the scene.

Neighbors said they heard a loud explosion in the house Thursday morning right before the house became engulfed in flames.

MyFoxAustin.com reported that a 12-year-old girl and a woman were rescued by a neighbor from the $236,000 burning house which belonged to Stack. The station reported that the girl is believed to be Stack's stepdaughter. Other media reports indicated that these individuals may have alerted authorities to Stack's actions.

A neighbor told MyFoxAustin.com that Stack was an experienced pilot who owned his own plane.

The Austin American-Statesman newspaper reported several "walking wounded" at the scene of the crash. Paramedics set up a triage center at the scene.

Heavy smoke could be seen coming from the building at 9420 Research Boulevard. Several local witnesses on Twitter reported seeing flames coming out of the building and lots of broken glass.

Dozens of fire trucks were on scene and the building was evacuated.

Early reports that the building housed the FBI field office in Austin later turned out not to be true. An FBI spokesman told Fox News that the FBI office in Austin is near where the plane crashed, but not in the same building. There are some federal offices in the building, though authorities couldn't identify which ones.

The NTSB is sending staff out of Dallas and DC to the scene.

As a precaution, the Colorado-based North American Aerospace Defense Command launched two F-16 aircraft from Houston's Ellington Field, and is conducting an air patrol over the crash area.

Witnesses are asked to contact the Austin Police Department at 210-650-6196 with any information that might be useful in the investigation.

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