A bomb today destroyed a van driven by the wife of Capt. Will Rogers, commander of the cruiser Vincennes which mistakenly shot down an Iranian airliner, killing all 290 people aboard.
Police immediately took security measures to guard the wife, Sharon Rogers, who was unhurt, and her husband, fearing they might be the targets of a terrorist attack in retaliation for the shooting down of the airliner.
The van had stopped at a red light in suburban La Jolla when the initial explosion occurred. Mrs. Rogers jumped out before the van burst into flames and ran up an embankment to ask construction workers for help.
A second explosion then destroyed the van, police said.
Mrs. Rogers was “just shook up. She had had a bunch of kids in the van yesterday and she was upset because anyone in the back of the van wouldn’t have made it,” said Police Officer George Sykes.
Police said initially that the woman had been taken to a hospital, but reported later she and her husband, who had not been riding in the van, were being kept for their own safety at a nearby police station.
Security Arrangements Made
“Some other security arrangements are being made,” a police spokesman, Bill Robinson, added, without giving details. But neighbors of the Rogerses said police immediately searched the family’s house and evacuated homes nearby, presumably precautions in case a bomb had been planted in the house.
Police said the remains of a pipe bomb that had been attached to the van’s undercarriage were found in the ruins. They said they had no suspects, but the FBI and naval investigators were helping in the investigation.
“There was a vehicle that was observed in the area at the time of the detonation, and we’re looking into that right now,” said FBI spokesman Ronald Orrantia.
Rogers is still captain of the Vincennes, which mistakenly shot down an Iran Airbus in the Persian Gulf last July 3.
The crew of the Vincennes was said by naval authorities to have mistaken the airliner for what it believed was an attacking Iranian F-14 fighter.
A Navy investigative panel cleared Rogers of any culpability but recommended censuring Lt. Cmdr. Scott E. Lustig, who was coordinating the Vincennes’ anti-aircraft systems.
Overruled by Carlucci
Defense Secretary Frank C. Carlucci later overruled that recommendation and Adm. William J. Crowe decided to take no action against any member of the ship’s crew.
The Ronald Reagan Administration defended the decision but offered to compensate the victims’ families. Tehran radio said at the time the attack would be “avenged in the same blood-spattered sky over the Gulf.”
In Washington today, Navy officials at the Pentagon said they were unaware of any threats against Rogers or his family, but were awaiting additional reports from San Diego.
On Dec. 21 a Pan Am jetliner was blown out of the sky over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing all 259 people on board and 11 on the ground.
Iran denied any involvement in that blast, but a telephone caller said a group called the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution blew up the plane to avenge the shooting down of the Iran Airbus.