NEW YORK (Sep. 8)
Federal and local police authorities are continuing their investigation of a bomb blast outside the front door of the Long Island home of Elmars Sprogis, a 70-year-old former Latvian policeman once accused by the government of Nazi war crimes.
While Sprogis and his wife escaped injury, a passerby, 23-year-old Robert Seifreid, was seriously injured. Seifreid had gone to the front door of the home to alert the couple that it was on fire. He apparently set off the blast when he kicked a small object as he was leading the couple out the door of the home.
Following the explosion last Friday, the Long Island newspaper Newsday received a phone call in which a male voice said, “Listen carefully. Jewish Defense League. Nazi war criminal. Bomb. Never again.” The message sounded, according to Newsday reports, as if it had been taped.
FORMER NAZI DIES OF HIS WOUNDS
The blast outside Sprogis’ home was similar to that which occurred last month outside the Paterson, New Jersey home of Tscherim Soobzokov, a 61-year-old former member of the Nazi SS. Soobzokov, who was seriously injured by a bomb blast when he emerged from his home August 15 in response to a call from a neighbor who had found Soobzokov’s car on fire, died last Friday of his wounds. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack in Paterson.
Soobzokov lost his right leg and suffered extensive injuries of the lower body from the bomb attack. The Justice Department has sought unsuccessfully to deport Soobzokov for concealing his wartime activities when he applied for entry into the United States. The Department dropped the charges in 1980 after Soobzokov provided evidence that he had disclosed his Waffen SS membership and wartime record when applying for entry to the U.S.
Sprogis, a retired construction worker living in Brentwood, came to the U.S. in 1951 and is a naturalized American citizen. In 1982, the government filed charges against him seeking to have him deported for his wartime activities as a police chief in Nazi-occupied Latvia in World War II.
In 1984, a Federal District Court Judge dismissed the charges, ruling that while Sprogis had been present during Nazi persecution of Jews and other civilians, there had been no evidence that he had taken part. The government appealed the court decision, but an Appeals Court last June upheld Judge Francis Altimari’s ruling.
GOOD NEIGHBOR INJURED BY BLAST
According to police reports, Seifreid, who was not acquainted with Sprogis, was shopping in a store when he spotted the fire at Sprogis’ front door shortly before 4:30 a.m. last Friday. He ran across the street, pounded on the door to alert the Sprogis family who had been asleep. Seifreid told Newsday yesterday from his hospital bed that he had been inside the couple’s home for several minutes trying to persuade them to leave.
Seifreid said the bomb blew up, hurling him 25 feet to the street curb, when he kicked it as he was leading the couple out the door. The heel and bone of Seifried’s right foot was shattered by the bomb. Reports today said he is expected to undergo surgery this week to remove his right foot.