- An alleged online associate of the accused Pittsburgh synagogue massacre gunman, Robert Bowers, has been arrested for weapons offenses after commenting on social media that the October 27 shooting was a “dry run” and that “there was more to come,” NBC reports, citing an FBI affidavit.
- The US attorney in Washington charged Jeffrey R. Clark, Jr. with transportation of a firearm across state lines and possession of illegal, high-capacity magazines intended for use with AR-15 weapons.
- The alleged statements alone didn’t prompt the formal allegations and the case against the Clark Jr., 30, was filed Friday but unsealed on Tuesday.
- Family members allegedly called the FBI after becoming concerned about Clark’s erratic behaviour.
- Metropolitan Police who assisted in Clark’s arrest in Bloomingdale, described a “white supremacist” involved in a “suspected hate crime.”
Family members of a “riled up”online acquaintance of the accused synagogue shooter Robert Bowers have led to the arrest of the 30-year-old man, who wrote social-media posts calling the massacre “a dry run” and that “there was more to come.”
The US attorney in Washington charged Jeffrey R. Clark Jr. with transporting a firearm across state lines and possession of illegal, high capacity magazines intended for use with AR-15 weapons.
But it was also words that concerned many, including those closest to him.
While the statements themselves didn’t lead to Clark’s arrest and the formal allegations, but law enforcement involved in the arrest described the suspect as a “white supremacist” involved in a “suspected hate crime” investigation from the Bloomingdale neighbourhood of Washington, DC, according to an FBI affidavit, cited by NBC News.
According to the FBI affidavit, filed in support of the US Attorney’s criminal complaint, two of 30-year-old Clark Jr’s family members contacted the FBI as Clark’s behaviour, became “agitated” and “really riled up.”
They believed he was “heavily involved” in the alt-right movement, according to the FBI.
A self-proclaimed white supremacist, Clark and a younger brother attended the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, last year, FBI agents said.
That gathering of white nationalists and alt-right supporters became a rallying point for a nation divided by race.
One person was killed when a white supremacist, James Alex Fields, allegedly drove a car into a crowd killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others
The FBI said Clark Jr.’s family believe the brothers had photos of themselves at Charlottesville with Fields.
The two imagined a race war was coming and “wanted to expedite it,” while Clark Jr. once said the brothers killing “Jews and blacks,”according to the FBI.
Additionally, the FBI stated, Clark’s adult younger brother committed suicide within three hours of the synagogue attack.
After his sibling’s death Clark told family members he believed Bowers was a friend on the conservative social media platform Gab.
According to the FBI, Bowers was upset that the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, or HIAS, was a supporter of Central American refugees.
The violence came at the height of intense and fiercely partisan midterm election campaigning, during which the President Donald Trump spoke of an “invasion” of Central Americans, referring to a migrant caravan headed for the US border.
Prosecutors have outlined some of Clark’s online writing, including a Gab.com post that describes the victims of the synagogue attack as “all active supporters of pedophilia … and every last one of them deserved exactly what happened to them and so much worse.”
Clark, prosecutors say believed that the synagogue violence was justified because, “a homosexual Jewish couple was having an adopted baby circumcised that week,” according to the court filing.
Clark also called Bowers a “hero,” according to the FBI.
Eleven people were killed and many injured when a gunman allegedly 46-year-old Bowers shot and killed 11 worshippers with an AR-15 and handguns opened fire in the Tree of Life synagogue in the Squirrel Hill neighbourhood of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
The shooting is believed to be the deadliest attack on Jewish people in US history.
During a search of Clark’s home Friday, agents seized a shotgun, a rifle and a handgun – all registered to Clark and his brother – as well as an unregistered Colt .38 Special that a relative handed over, according to the allegations.
“In addition,” the FBI affidavit states, “agents recovered four high-capacity AR-15 magazines capable of holding up to 30 rounds of ammunition.”
Washington, DC, has made such magazines illegal.
On Gab, the 30-year-old called himself a “Meth-Smoking, Pipe Bomb making, mailman murding, #Fed, #DemoKKKrat, Che Guevara of the altright,” according to the affidavit.
When they were unable to remove Clark’s firearms, and concerned he might be taking drugs and posing a danger to himself or others, the family members contacted authorities, the filing said.
Robert Bowers pleaded “not guilty” to 44 counts related to the shooting, including murder, hate crimes, and obstructing religious practices.
Federal prosecutor have said they will seek the death penalty for Bowers.