Sept. 4 (UPI) -- Two Missouri men face federal charges that they attempted to travel to Kenosha, Wis., to "pick people off" with firearms they weren't legally allowed to possess, the Justice Department said.
The FBI arrested Michael Karmo, 40, and Cody Smith, 33, Tuesday at a hotel in Pleasant Prairie, just outside Kenosha.
Protests have been ongoing in the city for two weeks after police shot and paralyzed Jacob Blake in what activists say was an excessive use of force against a Black man. The demonstrations have at times turned violent, with some armed counterprotesters attending with the stated aim of protecting local businesses and property.
The Kenosha Police Department said it received word from a law enforcement agency in Iowa that Karmo and Smith planned to travel from Missouri to Kenosha "to loot and possibly 'pick people off,'" according to a criminal complaint Thursday.
Using cellphone data, the FBI tracked the two men to the hotel, where agents said they found an Armory AR-15 assault rifle, a Mossberg 500 AB 12-gauge shotgun, two handguns, a silencer, ammunition, body armor and a drone.
After questioning, agents determined that Karmo had a prior felony conviction, and Smith had a prior misdemeanor domestic battery conviction, making both prohibited from possessing firearms and ammunition.
Both men were charged with unlawful possession of a firearm, and Smith faces additional charges of aiding and abetting a felon in possession of firearms. Each of the charges carries up to 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000.
Last week, authorities charged 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse -- a self-described militia member -- with two counts of homicide for the shooting deaths of two protesters in Kenosha. He also faces one count of attempted homicide for shooting and injuring a third protester.
President Donald Trump has promised Kenosha millions of dollars to help rebuild after protests, but Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden accused the Republican of "stoking violence in our cities." Both leaders visited the city this week.