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What We Know About the Alleged Dylann Roof Wannabe

Benjamin McDowell reportedly tried to buy a gun off an undercover agent, saying he wanted to commit a racially motivated attack "in the spirit of Dylann Roof."

by Lauren Messman
Feb 17 2017, 6:00pm

Benjamin McDowell. Photo courtesy of Horry County Sheriff's Office via AP

A man with ties to white supremacist prison groups was arrested in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, this week after allegedly trying to buy a handgun from an undercover federal agent so he could commit a racially motivated attack "in the spirit of Dylann Roof."

Prior to his arrest on Wednesday, 29-year-old Benjamin McDowell reportedly started posting about Charleston shooter Dylann Roof on Facebook, expressing frustration that fellow "tattoos wearing" members didn't have "the heart to fight for Yahweh like dylann roof did."

In December, McDowell wrote a somewhat cryptic post on Facebook that linked to the website of a local conservative Jewish synagogue, saying, "I love love to act what u think." Then in January, McDowell allegedly used Facebook Messenger in an attempt to find a gun, or an "iron." He linked up with an undercover FBI agent, who he thought "handled problems for the Aryan Nations." The two met at a Myrtle Beach hotel where McDowell is said to have expressed his desire to get his hands on a firearm and commit an attack against non-whites without getting caught.

"I seen what Dylann Roof did and in my heart I reckon I got a little bit of hatred and I want to do that shit," he reportedly told the agent, adding, "If I could do something on a fucking big scale and write on the fucking building or whatever, 'In the spirit of Dylann Roof.'"

On Wednesday, McDowell met with the agent again to purchase a .40-caliber Glock and hollow point ammunition for $109, the New York Times reports. Shortly after the purchase, he was searched and arrested for unlawful possession of a firearm. He's currently being held at the Florence County Detention Center awaiting his detention hearing scheduled for next Tuesday. His previous arrests centered on allegations of malicious injury to animals, third-degree assault, and marijuana possession, among other offenses, according to a local NBC affiliate.

McDowell's apparent inspiration, white supremacist Dylann Roof, was sentenced to death last month for gunning down nine black parishioners at a South Carolina church in June 2015. This month, President Trump's White House reportedly began drawing up plans to revamp the nation's Counter Terrorism Program to focus solely on "radical Islamic terrorism."

white supremacist
race war
Dylann Roof
Benjamin McDowell