Feb. 16 (UPI) -- The FBI arrested a South Carolina man with suspected ties to white supremacist groups after he allegedly plotted an attack on a Jewish synagogue in Myrtle Beach "in the spirit of Dylann Roof."
Benjamin Thomas Samuel McDowell, 29, of Conway, S.C., was arrested Wednesday on a federal weapons charge after the Justice Department said he attempted to illegally purchase a handgun from an undercover FBI agent in January. McDowell served prison time for a felony burglary conviction in 2011, making it illegal for him to own a gun.
Prosecutors said in a federal court filing McDowell was plotting an attack on the Temple Emanu-El Conservative Synagogue and said he wanted to spray paint "in the spirit of Dylann Roof" on the building after the attack, as an ode to the massacre Roof carried out inside a black church that killed nine people in Charleston in 2015.
Investigators said McDowell first met the undercover FBI agent posing as a member of the Aryan Nation prison gang at a hotel in Myrtle Beach in January, when he solicited the officer's help in obtaining a gun. During the meeting, McDowell allegedly stated his desire to honor Roof by carrying out a similar mass shooting, this time targeting Jews.
McDowell was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm and/or ammunition. He is being held at the J. Reuben Long Detention Center where he is awaiting a preliminary court appearance on Tuesday.