29-year-old Benjamin T.S. McDowell was apprehended earlier this week after he tried to purchase a firearm from an undercover agent in order to replicate Dylann Roof’s attack. In the summer of 2015, the avowed white supremacist fatally shot nine African American parishioners and injured several others in a racially motivated assault.
McDowell was taken in on Wednesday, February 15th in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and subsequently charged with unlawful possession of a firearm. A hearing has been set for next week. In the meantime, he has been placed in federal custody.
According to FBI’s special agent, Grant Lowe, the suspect was previously jailed for unrelated reasons not yet disclosed to the media. Furthermore, law enforcement officers in Horry County said McDowell also shared Dylann Roof’s views and adhered to white supremacist groups. The affidavit states that recently, the suspect started posting on Facebook personal frustrations in relation to other white supremacists’ action and how they stood idly by as Dylann Roof took matter into his own hands. McDowell portrayed the convicted white supremacist, sentenced to death last month, as a role model.
Moreover, the suspect shared the “I love love to act what u think” message on Facebook with Temple Emanuel’ official website link attached to the statement. The Myrtle Beach conservative synagogue’s officials, however, refused to comment.
In January, McDowell shared yet another message on Facebook suggesting Roof had done what other white supremacists are supposed to be doing. The affidavit read the South Carolina man was looking for “iron”, slang for gun, using the Facebook Messenger app. A week later, the suspect met with an undercover agent. He told the law enforcement officer he was looking for a way to conduct an attack on nonwhites and get away with it. The man apparently planned to take it up a notch and dedicate the attack to Dylann Roof by writing the message “In spirit of Dylann Roof” on a building. He bought a .40-caliber Glock handgun and hollow-point ammunition for $109. However, only a short while afterward, he was taken into custody.
His mother told reporters her 29-year-old son was unemployed and kept mostly to himself. She also said McDowell had been previously jailed but did not elaborate on the reason.
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