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Man Charged After Incident At Holocaust Memorial Site

June 18, 1987 GMT

WASHINGTON (AP) _ An engraver for the federal government faces charges of making felony threats after he barricaded himself at the construction site of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in a building he didn’t want demolished.

Kenneth Kipperman, 40, of Silver Spring, Md., faced a hearing today before a District of Columbia Superior Court commissioner, said Clendon Lee, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office.

Kipperman went to the site asking to see the construction manager and saying he was an artist, Capt. William White, a police spokesman, said after the incident Wednesday.

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When workers denied his request to sketch the building, Kipperman asked if he could photograph it.

Workers were lifting him with an earth moving vehicle for a better vantage point when he said he was carrying explosives and jumped into an opening in the ground that White described as an old chimney.

Kipperman has been a picture engraver at the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing next to the construction site since 1974, said a bureau spokesman.

″Ken is a highly regarded craftsman in his field,″ said Ira Policoff, adding that only 32 engravers in the country have Kipperman’s skills and he is one of just 16 in Washington.

″As far as I know there had been no problems with him,″ said Policoff. ″I had spoken to him a number of times. He seemed like a nice man.″

The only trace of the former storage building for the Treasury Department that remains on the site is a crumbling brick structure with an opening leading to the basement area.

″He believed the building should not have been torn down and replaced by the museum,″ said Metropolitan Police Chief Maurice Turner.

After police contacted Kipperman in the underground area, Kipperman said his bag contained no explosives and he placed it outside the area in which he was barricaded.

After talking to negotiators on a telephone that was dropped into the hole, Kipperman surrendered peacefully at about 11 a.m., Turner said.

He said the bag contained ″personal effects,″ and a search with dogs revealed no explosives or weapons in the basement.

Kipperman fell and bruised his shoulder but the injury was not serious, the chief said. He was to undergo psychiatric evaluation at St. Elizabeths Hospital, police said.

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Police blocked off streets in the area when the incident began, causing traffic snarls during the morning rush hour. About 1,000 employees were removed from two Department of Agriculture buildings near the site.

The storage building under demolition was turned over to the Holocaust museum committee and closed in 1985, said Suzanne Murphy, spokeswoman for General Services Administration. Officials estimate that the museum will cost between $40 million and $50 million to build.