A Conway man was arrested Wednesday by the FBI after he discussed committing an attack “in the spirit of Dylann Roof” and bought a gun from an undercover official, according to a federal court document.
Benjamin Thomas Samuel McDowell, 29, of Conway, is charged as a felon in possession of a firearm or ammunition, according to a federal complaint. Documents filed in the case say McDowell became affiliated with white supremacists while he was serving prison sentences in South Carolina and has tattoos indicating his ties.
He also has a history of making racial comments on Facebook, according to court documents.
McDowell allegedly published a post on Jan. 5 stating:
“Dylann Roof did what these tattoos wearing so bada** is supposed to be doing they give f*** about their white race. All they wanne do is stay loaded on drugs the Jews put here to destroy white man and they feast on the drugs. they should be Feasting on the enemy that stole their Heritage and their bloodline and trying to run us off of this Earth you can post pictures of f****** Viking and swords all the s*** you want to post if you ain’t got the heart to fight for Yahweh like dylann roof did you need to shut the f******up d*** right I’m pissed off when I see a f******white young and disable beat him to death before f****** n****** and white people running their f******mouth not doing nothing!!!!!!! damn right I’m pissed off.”
Prior to that, McDowell posted on Dec. 26: “I love love to act what u think” and linked to the Temple Emanu-El Myrtle Beach Conservative Synagogue, the document says.
McDowell only has been charged so far with the weapons count, as felons are prohibited from having firearms or ammunition. Lance Crick, first assistant U.S. attorney for South Carolina, declined to comment on whether more charges would be brought or more individuals could be charged.
“We’re just at the arrest phase on that single charge,” Crick said. “The investigation continues.”
A news release from Crick’s office said the case is being investigated by the FBI, Horry County and Myrtle Beach police. Federal agents have tracked McDowell since at least early January, when he indicated that he was planning an attack and moved to obtain a weapon.
On Jan. 12, McDowell met with an undercover FBI agent who he believed worked with the Aryan Nation at an unnamed Myrtle Beach hotel, the document says. According to an affidavit filed in the case, the agent told McDowell that “I have to make sure that … if you going to do what you want to do … that doesn’t come back to me.”
McDowell then said he didn’t want to be caught in an attack either and didn’t want to go back to jail, according to the document. During the meeting, McDowell spoke of his frustration with white supremacists who simply shouted “white power,” the document states.
McDowell also allegedly said: “I’m wanting to do this shit, and I got the heart to do this.
“I seen what Dylann Roof did and in my heart I reckon I got a little bit of hatred and I .. I want to do that s***. Like, I got desire…not for nobody else…it just…I want something where I can say, ‘I f****** did that’ me personally.
“If I could do something on a f****** big scale and write on the f****** building or whatever, ‘In the spirit of Dylann Roof.’”
McDowell told the agent in that mid-January meeting that he had not decided on a place and time for an attack, however, the document states.
In a phone call later that day, McDowell asked the undercover agent to acquire a .40 caliber handgun for him, because he wanted to plan “an attack on an unknown location outside the county where he resided,” the affidavit said.
After the meeting, McDowell reportedly continued to make anti-Semitic comments on social media.
“Clean up world jewelry in the name of Yahweh. I wish the day we all get off Facebook and white Warriors like we was born to be like Dylan roof but we gotta do it in a smart away, and it takes a team it takes no drugs and party and more planning for the real Victory and not just saying it but should want Bloodshed 2 crave it and be a fanatic for your white race and for Yahweh God they’ve been murder and killed our birth rites of our white race. Its impossibly live the 14 words and let ungodly people destroy our race,” he posted on Facebook on Jan. 25, according to court documents.
The next day, McDowell allegedly told the agent over the phone that he was “plotting.” Documents said he continued to speak with the agent in other phone calls, as he discussed his plans and set up a meeting to buy a gun and ammunition.
On Wednesday, they met as planned, and McDowell bought a .40 caliber Glock and ammunition from the agent for about $109. The gun’s firing pin had been filed down without McDowell’s knowledge, according to court documents.
Soon after that same day, FBI found McDowell in the parking lot of a Hampton Inn at 1140 Celebrity Circle in Myrtle Beach. He was holding a red bag when agents found him. McDowell was arrested, and the affidavit states agents found the gun and ammunition, a cellphone and a cigarette that McDowell said contained marijuana.
McDowell was booked into the J. Reuben Long Detention Center Wednesday, but was released early Thursday and taken to federal court in Florence.
He is currently detained in the Florence County Detention Center, according to officials.