Pilot Set House On Fire Before Flying Plane Into IRS Building

Law enforcement officials say the small plane that slammed into a building in Austin, Texas, Thursday was piloted by a software engineer angry with the IRS -- who apparently set his home on fire before crashing his plane.

The pilot, who is presumed dead, was identified by one U.S. law official as Joseph Stack. A federal law enforcement official confirmed Stack owned a house that was burned Thursday.

A message on a Web site registered to Stack appears to be a suicide note: "If you're reading this, you're no doubt asking yourself, 'Why did this have to happen?'" the message says. "The simple truth is that it is complicated and has been coming for a long time." In the long message, the writer rails against the government and, particularly, the Internal Revenue Service.

A witness to the morning crash says the small plane was flying very low, and very fast. About 190 IRS employees work in the building, which caught fire when the plane hit Thursday. Two people were taken to the hospital and at least one other person is unaccounted for. Emergency crews are searching the building now for that person.

Earlier, about five miles from the crash site, Stack's home was heavily damaged by a fire that law enforcement officials suspect he set. A neighbor says a woman and her teenage daughter arrived at the house and were "very, very distraught" to find their home burning.

According to California Secretary of State records, Stack had a troubled business history, twice starting software companies in California that ultimately were suspended by the state's Franchise Tax Board.

The White House says it will await the results of an investigation before deciding whether to call it an act of terrorism. White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Thursday that President Barack Obama is getting updates from local and federal officials. Officials said a software engineer furious with the Internal Revenue Service flew his small plane into an Austin building housing nearly 200 federal tax employees. Obama was briefed on the incident at the White House before departing for political events in Colorado and Nevada.

Gibbs had said earlier that the incident did not appear to be terrorism. When asked specifically if domestic terrorism was a possibility, Gibbs said he does not suspect "somebody like an al-Qaida."