Two California men who plotted to firebomb John L. Burton Democratic Headquarters in Sacramento earlier this year were indicted on Thursday in San Francisco Federal Court.
According to the large number of messages exchanged between Napa resident Ian Rogers and Vallejo resident Jarrod Copeland, talks of an attack began shortly after the 2020 election in November. Both men were upset at the outcome of the election and started discussing possible Democratic targets to attack in retaliation.
While they had initially started planning an attack on the Governor’s Mansion, they soon settled on the Democratic Party headquarters. They also noted that they wanted their actions to spur a nationwide movement against the 2020 election results and Joe Biden’s win.
“We need to hit the enemy in the mouth,” said Rogers to Copeland in a message last year. “I think right now we attack democrats. They’re [sic] offices etc. Molotov cocktails and gasoline. I want to blow up a democrat building bad.”
Copeland responded with two messages, “I agree” and “Plan attack”.
Throughout December, two two began fine-tuning their plan, with Rogers even asking Copeland at one point “Do you think something is wrong with me how I’m excited to attack the democrats?” In January, both noted that their plan would be a-go if Congress certified Biden’s win on the 6th. They did, but had been significantly delayed due to protestors storming the Capitol and vandalizing parts of the building in the process.
This moved back the attack date, but allowed the two to add two following targets after the Democratic Party building in Sacramento, namely Twitter’s headquarters in San Francisco and Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park.
However, the Napa County Sherriff’s Office was soon tipped off about Rogers, and on January 15th, less than a week before attacks were likely to commence, they searched his Napa home. Inside they found between 45 and 50 guns, 15,000 rounds of ammunition, and five pipe bombs. hey also confiscated his electronic devices, which held his messages with Copeland.
Copeland found out about the raid later that day. After getting advice from a militia group leader, be proceeded to switch messaging apps and tried to delete all conversations with Rogers. However, this didn’t work and Copeland was also subsequently arrested earlier this month.
Both suspects indicted in San Francisco
At the Thursday indictment, the court listed the multiple charges against the two, as well as listed out their basic plan.
“According to the indictment, the defendants planned to use incendiary devices to attack their targets and hoped their attacks would prompt a movement,” said the indictment statement.
Rogers and Copeland each face multiple charges including the main charge of conspiracy to destroy by fire or explosive a building used or in affecting interstate commerce. Rogers also faces multiple weapons violations, including three counts of possessing automatic machine guns and one count of possessing unregistered explosive devices. Copeland also faces an additional charge of obstruction of justice for trying to destroy his message records.
The indictment on Thursday shook both Democrats and Republicans alike in California.
“Recent news reports of a plot to target the California Democratic Party Headquarters in Sacramento are extremely disturbing,” said California Democratic Party Chairman Rusty Hicks in a statement on Thursday. “We are relieved to know the plot was unsuccessful, the individuals believed to be responsible are in custody, and our staff and volunteers are safe and sound.”
“Yet, it points to a broader issue of violent extremism that is far too common in today’s political discourse. And, while we will continue to take every necessary precaution to keep everyone safe, we will not be distracted. We will not be deterred. We will not be dissuaded from the important work of protecting and preserving a democracy that works for every person who calls California home.”
Republicans were also similarly affected.
“They wanted to go after the Governor, the Democratic Party, Twitter, and Facebook,” said Elle Polk, a strategist who works with several Republican candidates in the state. “Regardless of how you feel about any of those institutions, the fact that they were willing to hurt innocent people and try to start an ‘uprising’ is horrifying.”
“I’m glad to say that even their planning has united every party against them on this.”
Copeland is expected to appear in court again on the 20th for a detention hearing, with Rogers expected to next make a court appearance on the 30th. Each defendant faces a max penalty of 20 years in prison.
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