Suicide Pilot's Daughter 'Sorry' for Her Father

Joe Stack

The daughter of the man who killed a government worker in a suicide plane attack last week said today she felt sorry for her father.

"His actions at the end were extremely horrific and I'm deeply sorry for my father," Samantha Bell said of Joe Stack, who perished in the crash into Internal Revenue Service offices in Austin, Texas.

Bell also recanted her previous characterization of her father as a hero.

"His last actions, the suicide, the catastrophe that caused injuries and death, that was wrong," Bell told "Good Morning America" in a telephone interview that aired Monday. "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 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" in an interview that aired today.

She said the only hero in the attack was its victim, Vietnam veteran Vernon Hunter.

"I don't want to hurt anybody," Bell said. "We are mourning for Vernon Hunter."

Before crashing a small airplane into IRS 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."

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner toured the destruction of the Austin IRS building Monday.

"We just spent an hour with the men and women who work in that building, listening to them talk about their colleague who died, what an inspirational leader he was, we listened to the stories they told about evacuating this building in three minutes, all the lives they saved by working together," Geithner told reporters Monday.

Victim's Son: Stack Is No Hero

Ken Hunter, son of Vernon Hunter, who was killed in the attack, refuted Bell's earlier statement on Monday, 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 Monday 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.

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