Arrest warrants issued in Kerrigan attack 2nd confession of plot reported

January 14, 1994|By Bill Glauber | Bill Glauber,Staff Writer

A sport built on grace was engulfed in controversy yesterday, as arrest warrants were issued in the attack on figure skater Nancy Kerrigan, law enforcement officials said.

The FBI took into custody Derrick Smith of Phoenix as he exited a plane at a Portland, Ore., airport.

ABC News also reported that Mr. Smith was the second man to confess to participating in the attack plot said to involve rival skater Tonya Harding's ex-husband and bodyguard.

Shane Stant of Portland is the alleged "hit man" in the attack on Ms. Kerrigan, the network reported.

Ms. Harding's ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly, and her bodyguard, Shawn Eric Eckardt, previously had been implicated in the plot to injure Ms. Kerrigan at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Detroit on Jan. 6.

KOIN-TV in Portland, citing unidentified sources, said Mr. Eckardt had been taken into custody last night.

But as of early last night, authorities announced no arrests, although Detroit deputy police chief Benny Napoleon confirmed "warrants have been issued."

But he offered no specifics.

A Multnomah County sheriff's spokesman in Oregon said "more than two arrest warrants" were expected. He also said the charge of conspiracy to commit assault is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and up to a $100,000 fine.

Though Ms. Harding has not been implicated in the plot, her status for appearing with Ms. Kerrigan at next month's Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway, remained clouded. The U.S. Olympic Committee has until Jan. 31 to submit team rosters.

If she is not implicated in the attack, USOC officials said, Ms. Harding would be able to skate in Norway.

"The rule book can say a lot of things," USOC Executive Director Harvey Schiller said in a statement. "But the most important thing for all of us to understand at this particular time is that we don't have sufficient information to make a judgment on any particular individual."

Ms. Harding's former agent, Michael Rosenberg, said the skater should be allowed to compete in Norway.

"I believe she is innocent because of the nature of her competitive character," he said.

Details of the plot to injure Ms. Kerrigan continued to unfold.

If initial reports are true, it involves an ex-husband who apparently wanted to help his former wife win a title and a personal bodyguard who was told to arrange the attack.

The Oregonian reported Mr. Eckardt told authorities that Mr. Gillooly asked him to arrange the attack.

Though divorced since last August, Mr. Gillooly and Ms. Harding reconciled in October and currently live together in Portland.

At last week's U.S. championships, Ms. Harding referred to Mr. Gillooly as "my husband."

NBC previously reported that an earlier plan to attack Ms. Kerrigan at her training base in Boston failed because of poor weather.

The latest plot allegedly involved a plan to pay $100,000 to a hit man in Phoenix.

Details became public after Mr. Eckardt apparently went to a Portland minister, who said he played a tape of the conspirators plotting the attack. The minister then notified a private investigator who contacted the FBI.

Detroit police yesterday also announced they had recovered the weapon allegedly used in the attack on Ms. Kerrigan. A man found a collapsible baton in a Dumpster behind Cobo Arena, site of the assault.

Ms. Kerrigan was smacked once on the right knee and was unable to participate in the U.S. championships. But she was named to the U.S. Olympic team by the U.S. Figure Skating Association's International Competition Committee.

She continued her rehabilitation yesterday, dodging dozens of reporters and photographers who were camped out near her home in Stoneham, Mass.

Ms. Kerrigan has continued to regain strength and mobility in her knee and is expected to begin skating next week after being examined by doctors Sunday.

"I am extremely encouraged," she said in a statement. "I'm feeling stronger every day and am very eager to get back to skating."

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