WICHITA, KAN. – Three men from southwest Kansas were charged in federal court here today with conspiring to detonate a bomb at an apartment complex in Garden City where Muslim immigrants from Somalia live and worship, Acting U.S. Attorney Tom Beall said.
A criminal complaint unsealed today alleged 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 attack, the defendants said, would “wake people up.”
“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.”
Charged with one count of conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction were:
Curtis Allen, 49, Liberal, Kan.
Gavin Wright, 49, Liberal, Kan., owner of G & H Mobile Home Center at 1250 E. Tucker Road in Liberal.
Patrick Eugene Stein, 47, Wright, Kan.
The complaint alleges that since February 2016 the FBI has been investigating the defendants’ activities planning a violent attack against Muslims in southwestern Kansas. 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. After considering possible targets including pro-Somali churches and public officials, the defendants decided to target an apartment complex in Garden City, Kan., where Somalis lived and maintain an apartment that served 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.
On Oct. 12, defendant Stein met with the confidential FBI source in rural Finney County to examine automatic weapons the source had brought from an FBI lab in Quantico, Va. After trying out two of the weapons, Stein took the source to see the apartment building the defendants were targeting in Garden City. Stein said he would provide ammonium nitrate for the bomb and contribute $200 to $300 for other materials.
Stein also talked with the source about defendant Allen’s arrest in a domestic violence case in Liberal the previous day, Oct. 11. Stein said he was concerned that Allen’s girlfriend would give Liberal police information about the defendants’ plans.
If convicted, the defendants face up to life in federal prison. Investigating agencies included the FBI, the Liberal Police Department, the Seward County Sheriff’s Office, the Ford County Sheriff’s Office, the Garden City Police Department, the Dodge City Police Department, the Finney County Sheriff’s Office, and Kansas Highway Patrol, and the Kansas Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Tony Mattivi is prosecuting
In all cases, defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty. The charges merely contain allegations of criminal conduct.