Parma Man Sentenced to Prison for Conspiracy to Commit Arson During May 30, 2020, Demonstrations and Unrest in Downtown Cleveland
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Ohio announced today that a federal grand jury returned a two-count indictment charging Christian Stanley Ferguson, age 20, of Cleveland, Ohio with attempted kidnapping. Ferguson was arrested on May 8, 2020, for an attempted plot to ambush and kidnap law enforcement officers responding to a false distress call.
“Christian Ferguson was actively planning to ambush, kidnap, and even kill law enforcement officers in order to carry out his plot of a violent uprising," said U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman. "We must demonstrate that these types of threats to law enforcement or to commit such heinous acts of violence in our community will not be tolerated.”
“The primary mission for law enforcement officers and special agents is to protect the public,” said FBI Cleveland Special Agent in Charge Eric B. Smith. “Christian Ferguson's primary mission was to kill as many law enforcement personnel as he could, an unfathomable concept. Thanks to the public for advising the FBI of the hateful and violent feelings Ferguson held for law enforcement. This information led to the swift disruption of Ferguson's plans and his reckoning with the criminal justice system. Law enforcement reminds the public: see something, say something!”
“We were happy to assist the FBI with this case, especially due to the seriousness of the threats,” said Cuyahoga Falls Police Chief Jack Davis. “The Cuyahoga Falls Police Department members have always enjoyed a great working relationship with the local agents, and this was yet another opportunity for local and federal law enforcement to work together.”
"The National Park Service is deeply appreciative of the work of the FBI and United States Attorney on this case,” said CVNP Chief Ranger Bruce Gagnon. “This indictment is good news for the men and women of law enforcement across the region."
According to the criminal complaint filed in this matter, over the course of several weeks, Ferguson engaged in violent and extremist postings made on cross-platform social media communication applications. In these postings, Ferguson discussed his desire to call police to report a false crime was in progress to prompt a response by law enforcement.
Specifically, he expressed an interest in a response by federal law enforcement because he believed they had better quality firearms and body armor to steal. He made statements about tactical options for killing multiple targets and the disposal of their bodies. He reaffirmed his plan to ambush law enforcement, kill them, rob them of their weapons, and start an uprising.
As a result of online conversations in a chatroom controlled by Ferguson, he met on several occasions with individuals to further discuss Ferguson’s plan in order to see it to fruition. Ferguson then engaged in practice drills with an AR-15 rifle and, on one occasion, conducted reconnaissance in a dry run. He ultimately facilitated a hoax distress call within the boundaries of the National Park to gauge response time by Park Rangers. Ferguson believed four federal officers arrived and indicated that if that many officers respond to the actual event, they would likely have to kill them all.
Ferguson was arrested, without incident, on May 8th and is currently in federal custody.
An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
If convicted, the defendant’s sentence will be determined by the Court after a review of factors unique to this case, including the defendant’s prior criminal records, if any, the defendant’s role in the offense and the characteristics of the violation. In all cases, the sentence will not exceed the statutory maximum and in most cases, it will be less than the maximum.
This case was investigated by the Cuyahoga Valley National Park Rangers, Cuyahoga Falls Police Department, City of Cuyahoga Falls Prosecutor’s Office, and the Cleveland Division of the FBI and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Duncan Brown and Daniel Riedl.