SC man accused of plotting Dylann Roof-style attack pleads guilty

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FLORENCE, SC (WBTW) – The Conway man accused of illegally buying a gun to ignite an attack “in the spirit of Dylann Roof,” pleaded guilty Monday morning to a gun charge.

Court documents for Benjamin Thomas McDowell show that the 30-year-old pleaded guilty to the charge of felon in possession of a firearm. McDowell faces a maximum prison term of 10 years, $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release. A sentencing date has not been set.

McDowell was arrested Feb. 15, 2017 by the FBI after he “indicated he sought a way to conduct an attack on non-whites without getting caught,” and bought a gun illegally from an undercover FBI agent, according to court documents.

FBI agents characterize McDowell as a white supremacist who illegally bought a gun he planned to use in an attack against “non-whites” similar to the Charleston church shooting.

Court documents state that McDowell told an undercover agent he wanted to buy a gun for an attack in “the spirit of Dylann Roof.”

McDowell’s mother, Joann Clewis, spoke exclusively to News13 the day after her son’s arrest and said her son thought the Charleston church shooter was “brave.”

“He just said that that boy (referring to Roof) was brave, and he made headlines as a white boy, but he said he (Roof) was wrong to go in the church and shoot up like he did, and he said, he (Roof) stood up for the white people,” said Clewis of her son’s admiration for the Charleston church shooter.

Clewis said she had no idea her son was planning any type of attack, and was shocked when FBI agents pounded on her door that February morning.

Court documents show McDowell signed the guilty plea Feb. 5 and Assistant United States Attorney A. Bradley Parham accepted the plea Monday.

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