Five people were arrested and charged with conspiring to use explosives to destroy a bridge near Cleveland
Five people were arrested and charged with conspiring to use explosives to destroy a bridge near Cleveland, said Steven M. Dettelbach, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, and Stephen D. Anthony, Special Agent in Charge of the Cleveland Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), for the Northern District of Ohio.
DOUGLAS L. WRIGHT, age 26, BRANDON L. BAXTER, age 20, ANTHONY HAYNE, age 35, CONNOR C. STEVENS, age 20, and JOSHUA S. STAFFORD, age 23, were arrested by members of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force the evening of April 30, 2012, on charges of conspiracy and attempted use of explosive materials to damage physical property affecting interstate commerce, pursuant to Title 18 U.S.C. 371 and Title 18 U.S.C. 844(i).
The public was never in danger from the explosive devices, which were controlled by an undercover FBI employee. The defendants were closely monitored by law enforcement. The explosives that the defendants allegedly purchased and attempted to use were inoperable and posed no threat to the public.
A criminal complaint was filed this morning in U.S. District Court in Cleveland, Ohio.
According to that complaint, WRIGHT, BAXTER, HAYNE, STEVENS, and STAFFORD are self-proclaimed anarchists who formed into a small group and considered a series of evolving plots over several months.
The initial plot involved the use of smoke grenades to distract law enforcement in order for the co-conspirators to topple financial institution signs atop high rise buildings in downtown Cleveland, according to the complaint.
The plot later developed to the utilization of explosive materials. The defendants conspired to obtain C-4 explosives contained in two improvised explosive devices to be placed and remotely detonated, according to the complaint.
The defendants discussed various bridges and physical targets in and around the Cleveland, Ohio metropolitan area over the course of several months. The final plan resulted in the Route 82 Brecksville-Northfield High Level Bridge being the designated target. This bridge crosses from Brecksville, Ohio to Sagamore Hills, Ohio over the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, according to the complaint.
“The complaint in this case alleges that the defendants took specific and defined actions to further a terrorist plot,” Dettelbach said. “The defendants stand charged based not upon any words or beliefs they might espouse, but based upon their own plans and actions.”
“The safety of the citizens of the Northern District of Ohio is and continues to be our primary focus. The individuals charged in this plot were intent on using violence to express their ideological views,” Anthony said. “The Joint Terrorism Task Force will continue to be vigilant in its efforts to detect and disrupt any terrorism threat, domestic or international.”
WRIGHT, BAXTER, HAYNE, STEVENS and STAFFORD will appear before a federal magistrate in U.S. District court today, May 1, 2012, in Cleveland, Ohio.
Agencies represented on the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force include: Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office, Federal Air Marshal Service, Cleveland Police Department, Cleveland Heights Police Department, U.S. Secret Service, U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service, Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Intelligence, Westlake Police Department, U.S. Diplomatic Security Service, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Customs and Border Protection, RTA Police, Ohio State Highway Patrol, Transportation Security Administration, Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Shaker Heights Police Department, North Olmstead Police Department, US Postal Inspectors, and the Defense Criminal Investigative Service. Assistance was also provided by the U.S. National Park Service Park Rangers, Sagamore Hills Police Department and Brecksville Police Department, and the Summit County Sheriff’s Office.
A criminal complaint is merely an accusation. All defendants are presumed innocent of the charges until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in court.