Topeka Marks 20 Years Since Attack On Carlson Federal Building

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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Monday marked 20 years since Topeka's Carlson Federal Building came under attack.

On August 5, 1993, authorities say Jack Gary McKnight had just blown up a family vehicle in Oskaloosa when he traveled to Topeka, parked on the second level at the Carlson Federal Building, took an elevator to the fourth floor and launched what would be hours of terror.

Authorities say, once off the elevator, McKnight immediately shot and killed the security officer who was stationed there. He then went toward the clerk's office, where he continued to shoot and throw explosive devices. Meantime, the vehicle he'd used to get to the courthouse, exploded outside in the parking structure.

Some of the building's 300 occupants ran outside to safety, while others evacuated to a parking garage. Those who remained inside took cover where they could. Several recounted hiding in closets and being told to stay down and avoid the windows.

Six hours later, authorities completed a floor by floor search, finally ending on the fourth level where they found the victims. McKnight had taken his own life, but not before he'd wounded five people and killed the security officer who took the first bullets, 61-year-old retired Kansas Highway Patrol trooper Gene Goldsberry.

The incident was among the first in the nation to spark a re-examination of security at public buildings. At the time, a U.S. Marshal assigned to the federal building said it had 23 entrances and the building was designed for easy access to all agencies inside. Today, there is one main public entrance with guards and a metal detector. The building has two employee entrances which also have security.