NewsMar 02, 2018 by Alyssa Duvall
Benjamin McDowell, a self-identified white supremacist, faces up to ten years in prison and a fine of $250,000 after he pleaded guilty on Monday to being a felon in possession of a weapon, which he told undercover FBI agents he planned to use for a church shooting similar to the 2015 attack by Dylann Roof on the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.
The FBI first began investigating McDowell in December 2016 when he made threats to a Myrtle Beach synagogue on Facebook. Local authorities had already been keeping an eye on McDowell because he made friends with white supremacist groups and got tattoos associated with racist groups while in prison on a felony burglary charge.
McDowell then told an undercover FBI agent who offered to get him a gun that he planned to attack somewhere "in the name of white power" and write on the building "in the spirit of Dylann Roof," according to court records.
"I seen what Dylann Roof did and in my heart I reckon I got a little bit of hatred," McDowell said, according to the agent.
McDowell could not legally own a gun because of his burglary conviction and was arrested after the purchase. Agents said McDowell bought the gun, which had its firing pin shaved down rendering it non-functional, and ammunition for $109, which he had borrowed from his grandfather.
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