Two Local Men Plead Guilty to Federal Explosives and Weapons Charges
St. Louis, MO – This morning in federal district court, defendants OLAJUWON DAVIS and BRANDON ORLANDO BALDWIN pled guilty to planning and conspiring to blow up public buildings and police vehicles during the Ferguson protests, specifically mentioning the St. Louis County Prosecutor and the Ferguson Chief of Police as possible targets. The defendants also pled guilty to conspiring to illegally purchase firearms and distribute them to convicted felons, who were not legally able to purchase or possess firearms.
According to court documents, in August 2014, Olajuwon Davis, a member of the New Black Panther Party, became a frequent protestor in Ferguson, Missouri. During the protests, Davis met a fellow protestor by the name of Brandon Orlando Baldwin, who was employed at Cabela’s Inc. in Hazelwood, Missouri. Cabela’s is a federally licensed firearms dealer. Davis and Baldwin began to discuss how they could help arm some of the individuals taking part in the Ferguson protests. Baldwin volunteered that he could use his position at Cabela’s, and thereafter, Davis related to several people that he could procure firearms for convicted felons through Baldwin at the Cabela’s store. In fact, three such purchases were made: One on October 22, 2014, and two on November 7, 2014.
By early to mid-November, Davis and Baldwin’s talk of procuring guns had radically expanded into acquiring bombs. The discussions included types of bombs, blast radius and cost. Police stations and officers were discussed as likely targets, with specific references made to McCulloch (the St. Louis County Prosecutor) and Jackson (the Ferguson Police Chief). On November 12, 2014, an undercover informant showed the defendants a recording of a controlled explosion that would be produced by the type of pipe bomb the defendants were talking about purchasing. The defendants requested a delivery date of Friday November 21.
On Thursday evening November 19, the arranged sale of three bombs was scheduled for shortly after midnight in the early morning hours of Friday, November 20. The reason for the delay was so that the defendants would be able to withdraw the needed $150 from an ATM machine. The parties then met at a prearranged location in Hazlewood where the exchange of money and the three would-be bombs took place. Immediately upon the exchange taking place, Davis and Baldwin were arrested.
Olajuwon Davis, St. Louis, Missouri, pled guilty to one felony count each of conspiracy to damage or destroy a building, vehicle and other property by use of an explosive; conspiracy to make false written statements in connection with the purchase of firearms and the transfer of firearms to a felon; and two felony counts of aiding and abetting in the making of false written statements in connection with a firearms purchase. He appeared before United States District Judge Henry Autrey.
Brandon Orlando Baldwin, St. Louis, Missouri, pled guilty to one felony count each of conspiracy to damage or destroy a building, vehicle and other property by use of an explosive; conspiracy to make false written statements in connection with the purchase of firearms and the transfer of firearms to a felon; and two felony counts of making false written statements in connection with a firearms purchase. He appeared before United States District Judge Henry Autrey. Sentencing for both defendants has been set for August 31, 2015.
United States Attorney Richard Callahan praised law enforcement for preventing what potentially could have been a major disaster. "The disruption of this plot, coming as it did on the eve of the expected Grand Jury announcement, undoubtedly saved lives. Luckily for all of us, we’ll never know just how many," he said.
If convicted, these charges carry penalties ranging from 5 to 20 years in prison and/or fines up to $250,000.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, St Louis County Police Department and the St Louis Metropolitan Police Department.