The 1986 Charleston, Virginia bombings were a series of terrorist bombings executed against the city of Charleston, Virginia on September 9, 1986, beginning at 9:02 a.m. EDT. Approximately eight bombs were detonated: first was a car bomb outside the Kanawha County Courthouse, killing 16, the second was another car bomb rammed into a student dorm building at Marshall University that killed 18, third was a bomb planted on the boiler at Watts Elementary School, killing ten (seven students and three teachers), the fourth was a high-explosive shrapnel bomb that killed 33 at the Charleston Town Center. Fifth was a car bomb in the basement of the recently completed Laidley Tower that killed nine, while the sixth and seventh were both detonated in an empty side alley at the base of the Bank One Center, killing only two when a natural gas meter exploded at a nearby apartment building. The final bomb was fitted aboard a single-engine Cessna 172O and crashed into the seventh floor of Tower 2 of the Columbia Gas Complex, killing 41.
All told, when the attack was over, 139 were dead and over 560 were injured in what was then the worst terrorist attack on the United States, until the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, in which 168 were killed and 680 injured (an attack that now stands as the worst in US history). Damage totaled over $467 million, a large portion of which occurred when Tower 2 of the Columbia Gas Complex collapsed five hours after the bombing. FBI investigation was initially stringent and widespread across the state, but stonewalled after three years and became an effective cold case when no militia group claimed responsibility for the attack. But in June 1997, a successful FBI undercover operation in Seattle apprehended militia mastermind Michael Raines, who had orchestrated the bombings of 1986, among many others.