The father of a Washington man charged with leaving a bomb along the route of Spokane's Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade came to his son's defense in two TV interviews while verifying that the suspect frequently talked to racist groups on the Internet.
Bill Harpham also told KHQ-TV and KXLY-TV on Tuesday that his son may have had a hand in building the bomb, even if he didn't plant it along the parade route. And he said the son talked to hate groups on the Internet, but was never compelled to act on those beliefs.
Harpham said he was being cared for by Kevin Harpham when the backpack bomb was found Jan. 17, and that his son could not have driven the 160 miles to and from his home in Kettle Falls to plant the device in Spokane. He said he needs his son's care as he recovers from a stroke suffered in November.
Tom Rice, an assistant U.S. attorney in Spokane, declined to comment, as did the local FBI office. Public defender Roger Peven also declined comment.
Kevin Harpham, 36, was arrested March 9 and is being held in the Spokane County Jail without bail. He is charged with one count of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and one count of possessing an unregistered explosive. His case will be presented to a federal grand jury next Tuesday for possible indictments.
The bomb was discovered before the start of the parade and disarmed by the bomb squad, rattling residents of Spokane. There were no injuries.
The Southern Poverty Law Center has said that Kevin Harpham made more than 1,000 postings on an Internet site used by racists called the Vanguard News Network.
A telephone message left at the home of Bill Harpham was not immediately returned today.
But he told the two television stations that they were together in Kettle Falls at the time of the attempted attack. He says he and his son were making a lunch of hamburgers and beans as they watched newscasts about the discovery of the bomb.
Harpham said his son has been caring for him for weeks, and did not leave the home long enough to drive to Spokane and back, a 90-minute trip each way. But he still thinks his son may have had some role in the construction of the bomb.
"It saddens me to think that he might have had a hand in building it," Harpham told KHQ during an interview in his Kettle Falls home. He did not elaborate on his suspicion.
Bill Harpham said his son talked to racists on the Internet regularly.
"I've always told him, 'You don't swim with the sharks cause sooner or later you're going to get bit.' That's what he was doing," he told KXLY.
But he said Kevin Harpham never acted on racial hate.
"He don't even know how to hate. He says he hates them but when he talks to them there's no hate in it. I always told him 'You talk the talk, but you don't walk the walk,'" Bill Harpham told KXLY.
Kevin Harpham owns 10 acres of land north of Addy in rural Stevens County, a few miles south of his father's home. Property records show he bought the land in 1997 and built a small house in 2007. His lawyers have said the Army veteran was not married and had not been recently employed.