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Press Release

New Charge Filed Against Man Who Attempted to Bomb Downtown Oklahoma City Bank

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Oklahoma

OKLAHOMA CITY — A federal grand jury has returned a superseding indictment against Jerry Drake Varnell, 24, of Sayre, Oklahoma, for attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction at BancFirst in downtown Oklahoma City, announced Robert J. Troester, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Oklahoma.

The FBI arrested Varnell at approximately 1:00 am on August 12, 2017, after he allegedly attempted to detonate what he believed to be an explosives-laden van he had parked in an alley next to BancFirst, at 101 North Broadway.  The arrest was the culmination of a long-term domestic terrorism investigation involving an undercover operation, during which Varnell had been monitored closely for months as the alleged bomb plot developed.  The explosives were inert, and the public was not in danger.  FBI had received information that Varnell initially wanted to blow up the Federal Reserve Building in Washington, D.C., with a device similar to the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing because he was upset with the government.  Varnell has been in federal custody since his arrest.

On October 17, 2017, a federal grand jury charged Varnell with attempting to use an explosive device to damage and destroy BancFirst’s corporate offices.  If convicted of that charge, he would face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a mandatory minimum sentence of five years’ imprisonment.  He would also be subject to supervised release for up to life.

Today’s superseding indictment adds a second charge: attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction, in particular an explosive or incendiary bomb, against property used in interstate commerce.  If convicted of this new charge, he would face a maximum sentence of life in prison. 

This investigation was conducted by the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force, including members from the Oklahoma City FBI; Homeland Security Investigations, part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security; the Oklahoma City Police Department; the Edmond Police Department; the Oklahoma Highway Patrol; the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs; and the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation.  The FBI worked in conjunction with BancFirst during the investigation.  Oklahoma District Attorney Angela Marsee, of District 2, also provided assistance.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Matt Dillon and Mark R. Stoneman, with assistance from the Justice Department’s Counterterrorism Section.

The public is reminded that these charges are merely allegations and that Varnell is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Reference is made to court records for further information.

Updated April 18, 2018