According to federal officials, a 23-year-old man has been arrested for attempting to detonate a car bomb near a building in downtown Oklahoma City, KFOR reports.
Jerry Drake Varnell was arrested on Saturday morning after he allegedly attempted to detonate what he thought was a van full of explosives that he had parked in an alleyway near a BancFirst building in downtown. The FBI says Varnell initially planned to bomb the Federal Reserve building in Washington D.C. with a device that was similar to the one used in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building that resulted in the deaths of 168 people.
Court documents say that it was Varnell’s anti-government views that initially caught the attention of law enforcement, prompting them to send in an undercover informant to help him plan the bombing.
Varnell reportedly chose the target, helped assemble a fake explosive device that he thought was real, drove the van containing the dummy bomb to the alleyway, and dialed a number on a cellphone that he believed would trigger an explosion. He even had a pre-written statement that he planned to post to social media after the bombing.
“There was never a concern that our community’s safety or security was at risk during this investigation,” said Kathryn Peterson, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Oklahoma. “I can assure the public, without hesitation, that we had Varnell’s actions monitored every step of the way.”
According to the FBI’s filings, the following is the message Varnell planned to post to social media after the bombing:
What happened in Oklahoma City was not an attack on America, it was retaliation. Retaliation against the freedoms that have been taken away from the American people. It was a wake up call to both the government and the people. An act done to show the government what the people thinks of its actions. It is also a call to arms, to show people that there are still fighters among the American people. The time for revolution is now.
Varnell is charged with attempting to use explosives to destroy a building in interstate commerce. If convicted, he faces a maximum of 20 years in prison and a mandatory minimum sentence of five years.