Several people suffered injuries in an explosion at a downtown law office in Dalton, Ga., on Friday morning, including an attorney who was airlifted to a burn center at Augusta, Ga.
The man who caused the explosion - 78-year-old Lloyd Sylvester Cantrell of Varnell, Ga. - was dead just outside the law firm. His body lay outside the office for hours before it was finally taken to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Crime Lab at Decatur, Ga. An autopsy was planned for Saturday morning.
Two of those injured were treated and released. Another injured person was being treated at Hamilton Medical Center. One of the injured was Teresa Stinnett, an assistant at the law office. She had a shoulder injury. The other two with injuries were clients visiting the office.
Authorities said there will be a meeting open to the public at Dalton High School on Sunday at 2 p.m. Police Chief Jason Parker and District Attorney Kermit McManus as well as victim/witness assistance staff and members of Georgia's State Crisis Response Team will be present with a team of crisis interviewers to talk with community members about today's events. Community members, family members and friends of victims, law enforcement community members, first responders, as well as counselors and teachers are encouraged to attend.
Georgia's Crisis Response Team are NOVA (National Organization of Victim Assistance) trained and certified and have responded to state and local crisis including the Oklahoma City, 9/11, the Olympic Bombing in Atlanta, the Fulton County Courthouse Shooting, etc.
By Saturday morning the law office had been turned back over to the firm and the streets around it reopened.
Authorities said Cantrell first tried to ram the front of the McCamy Phillips Tuggle & Fordham law office at 411 W. Crawford St. with his GMC SUV, then he went to the rear of the building and tried to get inside with some type of gasoline bomb. He did so as a Dalton Police officer approached the law office after getting a 911 call.
The bomb exploded as Cantrell apparently sought to get inside, and it caused an explosion and fire at the law office, which is in a stately old house at the rear of the Post Office.
Reports were that Attorney Jim Phillips sought to stop the man and, when he did, the bomb exploded. The attorney suffered serious burns and was rushed to Hamilton Memorial Hospital, then airlifted to Augusta with second-degree burns over various parts of his body. Cantrell apparently held a grudge against attorney Phillips in connection with a property dispute in which the McCamy office was representing the other side.
Others injured include a client and office personnel, according to reports. Apparently, they were struck by flying glass when windows at the law office blew out.
Authorities said Cantrell's SUV remained at the scene because it was packed with explosives, including gasoline, propane and natural gas cylinders. They said the incident would have been much worse had Cantrell been able to penetrate the office with the SUV.
By 9 p.m., the GBI had finished removing explosive materials from the suspect's vehicle, and the Dalton Police Department and the GBI were investigating the crime scene inside the law offices.
Scott Sweetow of the Atlanta office of the ATV said, "This was not a terrorist attack. It was a depraved individual with personal animosity against this law firm."
A search warrant was served at the home of Cantrell at 1180 Beaverdale Road in Varnell to search for other explosives and clues to what caused the attack.
Chief Parker said he was not aware of any prior threats that Cantrell had made.
Smoke was still rising from the law office several hours after the explosion that happened around 10 a.m. However, the structure appeared to still be intact.
A nearby school, City Park Elementary, was placed on lockdown status immediately after the explosion. The children at the school were moved to a nearby location and all were safe.
The Post Office directly in front of the law office was closed the rest of the day.
A number of ambulances rushed to the scene.
Also, a number of law enforcement officers were outside the building and the roads nearby were blocked off.
The ATF, FBI and GBI were among the agencies involved.
Authorities said a 911 call was made from the law firm reporting a disturbance just before the explosion.
Attorney Jeff Kelly, whose law firm is three blocks away, said the explosion was so loud that it shook the walls of his office.
He said, "I looked outside and saw ambulances and police vehicles rushing down the street."
Attorney Kelly said someone shouted to him, "Hey, you lawyers better watch out." He said he then learned that the McCamy law office had been bombed.
He said, "I know those attorneys and they are good guys. I can't imagine why they would ever be a target of anyone."
The finlaw.com website says the McCamy firm was founded in 1932 as Hardin and McCamy. The firm has occupied the house since 1965.
The website says, "The firm has steadily increased in size to its present membership of six partners and two associates. One former member has served for many years as federal judge in the Northern District of Georgia.
"The firm's practice has always been a broad-based general practice with traditional involvement in banking, utilities, government, corporate and real estate law together with considerable civil trial practice, insurance defense and estate planning.
"The firm is general counsel to Dalton's largest bank; the municipal utilities system; the county government of Whitfield County; the hospital and a national bank in Murray County, Georgia; and a number of large manufacturing concerns, primarily in the carpet industry. We are also local counsel for major carpet manufacturers, a number of insurance companies, regional utilities suppliers and two large convenience store chains. We are approved by the major title insurance companies and are issuing agents for several title insurance companies."