When someone firebombed a campaign office for Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-MO), the Left assumed that the culprit had to be someone politically motivated against the incumbent.  However, Jim Hoft discovered that the apparent prime suspect in the case turned out to be not a political antagonist but a disgruntled employee/volunteer, one who operates a diary-type blog at Talking Points Memo, which initially remained silent.  A day later, TPM covered the story:

Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-MO) confirmed in a press conference yesterday that the suspect in an alleged arson at Carnahan’s campaign office is a former paid campaign worker named Chris Powers.

Powers has not been charged in the arson case. In a phone interview this morning with TPMmuckraker, Powers denied having any involvement with what local reports have described as a “fire bombing.”

“I’m innocent,” Powers said. “I was at home when Congressman Carnahan’s office was fired on. I have nothing to do with it.” …

As several blogs have reported, Powers wrote a reader blog at TPMCafe under the name Ripper McCord. (Any TPM reader can create a blog and comment on the site, and Powers is not affiliated with TPM.)

This development makes for yet another don’t-jump-to-conclusions morality tale, but perhaps more people should take heed of it.  Certainly the crowd who rushed to blame Tea Party activists and Republicans for the attack have some apologies to make, just as they did when the Left assumed that conservatives murdered a man who was later determined to commit suicide.

On the other hand, though, being a suspect does not mean being guilty.  I’ve received a lot of e-mail from readers declaring that this demonstrates the violence inherent in the Left system, and so on.  So far, the police haven’t even charged Powers.  If they do, they’ll have to prove their case in court.  I’d remind people that the police thought they had their man in the Atlanta Olympics bombing when they accused the one guy who took action to save lives with planting the bomb in the first place — only to find out that the real bomber was serial terrorist Eric Rudolph.  Richard Jewell had to fight for years to get his reputation back before passing away in 2007.

The fact that the suspect list, at least the acknowledged suspect list, includes a disgruntled worker should be reason enough to scold those who leaped to conclusions in the first place, but let’s not do the same thing now.   There may well be other suspects in the case of whom we are unaware.  Until the police actually file charges and publish their evidence, maybe everyone should just hold their powder and see how the situation develops first.

Update: Of course, for those who do jump to conclusions, apparently one can just claim that it’s, er, satire:

A writer for a St. Louis alternative newsweekly tells The Daily Caller he does not regret speculating in a story that the suspect of an attempted arson of a Democratic congressman’s campaign office was a Tea Party activist.

It turns out that the suspect in this week’s firebombing of Democratic Rep. Russ Carnahan’s campaign office in St. Louis was actually a liberal blogger and former paid campaign worker for Carnahan’s campaign.

“As to the legions of Tea Party adherents who are calling for my head: No, I have no regrets. I was having fun — at their expense,” River Front Times reporter Chad Garrison said in an email.

Something’s a joke.