White supremacist arrested for planned shooting ‘in the spirit of Dylann Roof’

President Trump downplayed concerns about the rising tide of anti-Semitism, xenophobia, and racism across the United States during a press briefing with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Wednesday, using the time to instead talk about his Electoral College victory. It was a dismissive statement that reflected actual policy changes in the new administration, like the refocusing of a government program that serves to combat violent extremism to solely target Islamic terrorism. It’s also an attitude that will likely get some people killed.

The FBI arrested a South Carolina white supremacist Thursday for illegally buying a gun with the expressed purpose of carrying out a mass shooting “in the style of Dylann Roof.” Benjamin Thomas Samuel McDowell (see photo) attempted to acquire a .40 caliber Glock handgun from an undercover FBI agent, which, according to a federal complaint, the 29-year-old wanted to use to massacre Jews and walk away “scot free.”

McDowell got hooked up with white supremacists while serving time in prison for a number of offenses. In the last few months, McDowell posted a number of anti-Semitic messages on Facebook, including on the page of Temple Emanu-El Conservative Synagogue in Myrtle Beach, accusing Jews of plotting to wipe out the white race.

“All they wanne do is stay loaded on drugs the Jews put here to destory white man and they fest on the drugs,” he wrote in a post on January 5. In the post, he chastised other white supremacists for not having “the heart to fight for Yahweh like dylann roof, and a day later, posted that he was looking to purchase a gun.

The FBI had been monitoring the statements, and an undercover agent posing as someone who “handled problems for the Aryan Nations” contacted McDowell under the pretense of selling him a firearm. They met one week later, when McDowell again expressed his interest in “doing something on a fucking big scale” and writing “in the spirit of Dylann Roof” on the wall of the building where he would commit the killings.

“Screaming ‘white power’ is not getting the job done,” he said according to the complaint, adding that he had “the heart to do that shit, but I don’t have the good training.”

“I seen what Dylann Roof did and in my heart I reckon I got a little bit of hatred,” McDowell also said. “I want to do that shit.”

After the sale of the firearm, McDowell was arrested on charges of being a felon in possession of a firearm or ammunition.  A preliminary detention hearing is scheduled for February 21.

[photo: J. Reuben Long Detention Center]