The daughter of the man who carried out a suicide plane attack against the IRS in Texas said today she considered her father a hero for standing up to "the system," although she later back away from that statement.
"His last actions, the suicide, the catastrophe that caused injuries and death, that was wrong," Samantha Bell, Stack's daughter from his first marriage, told "Good Morning America" in a morning television exclusive telephone interview that aired today. "But if nobody comes out and speaks up on behalf of injustice, then nothing will ever be accomplished. But I do not agree with his last action with what he did. But I do agree about the government."
When "Good Morning America" asked if she considered her father a "hero," Bell, 38, said, "Yes, because now maybe people will listen." Bell later called "Good Morning America" to retract her statement and say unequivocally that her father was "not a hero."
Rather, she said the only hero involved in the attack was its victim, Vietnam veteran Vernon Hunter, the only person besides Stack killed in the attack.
"I don't want to hurt anybody," Bell said. "We are mourning for Vernon Hunter."
"His last actions, the suicide, the catastrophe that caused injuries and death, that was wrong," Bell said in the aired interview. "But if nobody comes out and speaks up on behalf of injustice, then nothing will ever be accomplished. But I do not agree with his last action with what he did. But I do agree about the government."
Before crashing a small airplane into Internal Revenue Services offices in Austin, Texas, last week, Stack posted a lengthy, rambling suicide note online that railed against the government, the IRS and taxes specifically as part of a "totalitarian regime."
Ken Hunter, son of Vernon Hunter, who was killed in the attack, refuted Bell's earlier statement, saying Stack's not the hero in this situation, but his father is.
"How can you call someone a hero who after he burns down his house, gets into his plane ... and drives it into the building to kill people?" Hunter told "Good Morning America." "My dad Vernon did two tours of duty in Vietnam. My dad's a hero."
Bell said there were "zero signs" that her father harbored such strong anti-government sentiments.
"He may have been somewhat frustrated, but he was a very quiet man," she said. "The father I knew was a loving, caring, devoted man who cherished every moment with me and my three children, his grandchildren. ... This man who did this was not my father.
"He must've kept this bottled up all these years."
Vernon Hunter was also a grandfather and to Vernon's son, Stack's actions will not change anything.
"The only difference he made was he took away from my family and murdered a 20-year U.S. Army vet," Ken Hunter said.
To Hunter's family, Bell offered her "deepest condolences."
"I lost my father, but I feel guilty to be mourning my father because I know other people have been affected and a wonderful man has died because of my father's actions. And I need to pay my respects and mourn for the man and his family," she said.
Before attacking the IRS offices, Stack burned down his wife's home. While many debated Stack's motives for the arson, Bell said it was likely all part of his anti-government rampage.