Camden Bank, Business Bldg. Targets of Two Firebombings

Soot marks the spot where firebomb struck the Third National Bank of New Jersey, in Camden today. The bombing was the second of two in the city within 16 minutes and three miles.

Camden Courier-Post – December 22, 1971

Volkswagen Impounded by Police

By Joseph R. McCarthy and Douglas Campbell, Courier-Post Staff

There was a loud bang from the back room of the Third National Bank of New Jersey, Camden at 7:34 am. today, just after Miss Sara Matthews, head bookkeeper, had left and shut the door.

When she rushed back into the room, a walk-up window teller’s booth, she saw flames leaping at the window.

“We panicked,” admitted Miss Matthews who, with Mrs, Ellen Egbert, head teller, had been in the bank at 27th and Federal Streets 10 or 15 minutes.

The fire was the result of one or two firebombings perpetrated today within 16 minutes and three miles of each other. The first bombing was at 333 Arch St., Camden, a building housing several businesses and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico Labor Department office.

Car Impounded

Police impounded a red Volkswagen following the bombings. They said the car fits a description given by witnesses at both scenes of a car seen speeding from the bombings: Police were questioning several men about the incidents, according to Det. Capt. Donald McGlensey.

According to Harold Pike, city fire marshal, there was little damage at the Arch Street bombing, committed at 7:18 a.m. He said there were no persons in the office building. Witnesses told firemen they saw a red Volkswagen speeding from the scene following the explosion of the bomb at the front of the building, he said.

Fireman George Merriweather, on his way to work at No. 9 Engine Co., 27th and Federal Streets, saw smoke coming from the bank, across the street from the station, and alerted his fellow firemen. By the time firemen arrived at the bank, however, the fire was out.

$500 Damage

Acting battalion chief Harry Scholz said witnesses told him they saw a man driving a red Volkswagen toss a bottle against the building. The bottle struck the outdoor walk-up window and then exploded, he said, causing about $500 damage to the cage.

About ten minutes after the bank bombing, police, alerted to the description of the car, impounded a red Volkswagen at Dudley and Federal Streets, six blocks from the bank.

According to Miss Matthews, she didn’t attempt to extinguish the fire, on the Westfield Avenue side of the bank. Instead, she and Mrs. Egbert decided to run to he fire department across the street. However, firemen were already on the way.

No Injury

Miss Matthews said she saw no one when she looked into the burning teller cage. Neither she nor Mrs. Egbert was injured.

Robert Harrison, a bank vice president, said a few items near the window were burned. He noted the teller’s cage is usually open from 3 to 6 pm.

Fire marshal Pike said he had assigned men to investigate at both bombing sites. It was unknown if police had a suspect in the bombings.


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