Three southwest Kansas men were arrested and charged in federal court in Wichita today for allegedly conspiring to bomb an apartment complex in Garden City that serves as a Muslim mosque for many local Somali refugees, according to the U.S. Attorney Office.
Acting U.S. Attorney Tom Beall announced the charges at a press conference Friday afternoon in Wichita. According to a criminal complaint released by the U.S. Attorney's Office, the men conducted surveillance to size up potential targets, stockpiled firearms, ammunition and explosive components, and prepared a manifesto to be published after the bombing. The criminal complaint states that the defendants said the attack would, “wake people up.”
Curtis Allen, 49, and Gavin Wright, 49, both of Liberal, and Patrick Eugene Stein, 47, of Wright have been charged with one count of conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction.
“These charges are based on eight months of investigation by the FBI that is alleged to have taken the investigators deep into a hidden culture of hatred and violence,” Beall said. “Many Kansans may find it as startling as I do that such things could happen here.”
The complaint alleges that since February 2016, the FBI has been investigating the men’s activities and their efforts to plan the violent attack. According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, a confidential source attended meetings of a militia group called the Kansas Security Force, providing the FBI with information about the groups’ activities.
The defendants were members of a small group they called the Crusaders, according to the complaint. After considering possible targets, including pro-Somali churches and public officials, the men decided to target the apartment complex at 312 W. Mary St., where Somalis lived and maintain an apartment that serves as a mosque. They discussed obtaining four vehicles, filling them with explosives and parking them at the four corners of the apartment complex to create a big explosion, according to the complaint.
On Oct. 12, Stein met with a confidential FBI source in rural Finney County to examine automatic weapons the source had brought from an FBI lab in Quantico, Va., according to the complaint. After trying out two of the weapons, Stein took the source to see the apartment building the men were targeting in Garden City. Stein said he would provide ammonium nitrate for the bomb and contribute $200 to $300 for other materials, the complaint states.
Garden City Mayor Chris Law and Police Chief Mchael Utz issued statements following the announcement.
“Our community is forever grateful for the protection provided to us every day, but especially today in learning of the thwarted attack on our community. I’m shocked, but at the same time extremely proud of and grateful for the efforts of local, state, and federal law enforcement," Mayor Chris Law said. "Today should also serve as a reminder that vigilance should be a common practice by all citizens. ‘See something, say something’ is a cause we should champion each day even in a rural community like Garden City. I would encourage anyone that sees something suspicious to call 911.”
Utz indicated the GCPD was aware of the investigation and has cooperated with the FBI since the onset.
“We have been assured that all individuals involved are in custody, and that the safety of the community was ensured throughout the investigation. All inquiries about the investigation, arrest, and prosecution are referred to the US Attorney’s Office and the FBI," Utz said.
Read the sealed criminal complaint below: