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Press Release

Federal Jury Convicts Man of Detonating Pipe Bomb at Suburban Chicago Train Station

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Illinois

CHICAGO — A federal jury in Chicago has convicted a man of detonating a pipe bomb at a suburban Chicago train station.

On Sept. 1, 2006, THOMAS JAMES ZAJAC placed a pipe bomb in a trash can at the BNSF Railway station in Hinsdale, Ill.  The device exploded during the morning commute, causing damage inside the station and injuring a station agent.  About a month later, Zajac sent an anonymous letter to the Hinsdale Police Department, stating that the police had “[expletive] with” the wrong person and that the writer had “fired a warning shot” last month.  The letter indicated that police actions would “likely eventually lead to the death” of at least one person in Hinsdale, and that the writer wanted to see whether the department was “bright enough or possess[ed] the character to stop this death.”  Evidence at trial revealed that Zajac felt disrespected when a family member was arrested by Hinsdale Police the prior year.

Zajac, 70, formerly of Oakbrook Terrace, Ill., was convicted Monday of all three counts against him, including one count of attempting to destroy property with an explosive device, one count of possessing an unregistered destructive device, and one count of willfully making a threat through the mail to kill or injure a person with an explosive device.

The property destruction count carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in federal prison and a maximum of 20 years.  Each of the other two counts are punishable by a maximum sentence of ten years.  U.S. District Judge Matthew F. Kennelly set sentencing for Dec. 13, 2023.

The verdicts were announced by Morris Pasqual, Acting United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and Christopher Amon, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Field Division of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.  Valuable assistance was provided by the Hinsdale Police Department, DuPage County, Ill., Sheriff’s Office, and the U.S. Secret Service.  The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brian Kerwin, G. David Rojas, and Andréa L. Campbell.

Updated September 19, 2023

Domestic Terrorism
National Security
Violent Crime