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Terrorized Town on the Mend; Mystery Remains

May 23, 1986

HOLLIDAY, Texas (AP) _ More than a month after this tiny town was terrorized by firebombings and vandalism, the suspects and motives remain a mystery.

But investigators say some questions may be answered when a federal grand jury meets in mid-July to consider evidence in the cases.

City administrator Brown Hudson said the town closely resembles the friendly, peaceful community it once was but its residents are more cautious.

Texas Rangers and state troopers joined forces with the farm and ranching community’s two-man police force in mid-April after a mysterous wave of violent vandalism.

Two local businesses were firebombed, tires were slashed on vehicles belonging to law enforcement officials, and debris was thrown in roadways to keep emergency vehicles from reaching the burning buildings.

The crimes sent the town into a state of emergency and brought in outside investigators.

″Things are quiet now. I think everybody had a certain amount of fear,″ Hudson said. ″There was a hesitancy to talk to people for fear it might be someone you didn’t want to be talking to,″

Lou Iliano, resident agent of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms in Fort Worth, said his agency has been investigating the case and has sent an investigator into the town, located about 10 miles south of Wichita Falls.

Iliano said he could not release any information, but ″we’re progressing,″ and more details might be available for the grand jury.

Contrary to the suspicions of many townspeople, Iliano said, the incidents are not associated with drug arrests made last year.

Residents are rebuilding from the experience, according to Hudson.

Municipal Judge Bettye Tanner is trying for the third time to open Tanner Kuntry store, which was firebombed. She had been remodeling the store and was ready to open it for business when it was bombed. The remodeled was prompted after a previous, unrelated fire.

Tanner said the threats she was receiving also have ended.

What has come from the firebombings, said Hudson, is a lot of publicity that has done Holliday some good and taught residents they are ″not out all alone in the country any more.″

Brown said what the town has experienced are the growing pains of becoming urbanized.

Holliday went through three city administrators before Hudson, a 30-year city planner, was offered the post.

The city wastewater treatment plant is repaired, other improvements have been made and laws are uniformly enforced, Hudson said.

″Now (the law) applies to everybody. Everybody plays by the same rules. It’s growing pains,″ he said.

The experience also has drawn residents together.

″They realize we’ve got to live together, protect one another, look out after one another. There’s caring where there was apathy,″ Hudson said. ″We’ve got to stick together and build.″

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