Home News Two men arrested, plotted to blow up California Democratic headquarters

Two men arrested, plotted to blow up California Democratic headquarters

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Sam Stanton

The Sacramento Bee

Two Bay Area men have been indicted on charges of plotting to blow up the Democratic headquarters building in Sacramento because of their belief that former President Donald Trump won the 2020 election, and authorities have seized 49 weapons — including machine guns and bombs, court records say.

A federal grand jury in San Francisco indicted two men — Ian Benjamin Rogers of Napa and Jarrod Copeland, a former resident of Vallejo who recently moved to Sacramento — on charges of conspiracy to destroy a building, possession of destructive devices and machine guns and obstruction of justice.

The two men allegedly began plotting attacks on Nov. 25, following Trump’s loss to President Joe Biden, court papers say.

“By November 29, 2020, they had identified the John L. Burton Democratic Headquarters in Sacramento, California, as their first target, and made plans to attack it using incendiary devices,” according to the indictment, which was unsealed this week. “Rogers and Copeland believed that the attacks would start what they called a ‘movement.’

“They discussed the attack in detail and on numerous occasions.”

By December, the men were using “multiple messaging applications to plan their attack,” the indictment says.

“In late December 2020, Copeland told Rogers that he had contacted an anti-government militia group to attempt to gather support for their ‘movement,'” the indictment says. “He also obtained material that he told Rogers was to be used in support of their plan.

“On January 11, 2021, Rogers told Copeland, ‘I want to blow up a democrat building bad,'” the indictment says. “They then discussed their target, and Rogers said, ‘I’m thinking sac office first target,’ meaning that they would target the Democratic Headquarters in Sacramento first.”

Copeland responded, “I agree. Plan attack,” the indictment says, adding that Rogers ended the conversation by suggesting “Let’s see what happens after the 20th we go to war.”

Jan. 20 was Inauguration Day for Biden, and no attack was launched on the building at 1830 Ninth St. in Sacramento.

“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,” California Democratic Party Chairman Rusty Hicks said in a statement. “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.”

The attack may have been thwarted by the fact that FBI and Napa County law enforcement officials searched Rogers’ home and business Jan. 15 and seized roughly 50 firearms, including at least three fully automatic weapons, five pipe bombs and thousands of rounds of ammunition, court papers say.

Court papers say several guns and the pipe bombs were found in a large gun safe.

Rogers was arrested, and told authorities that “he had built the pipe bombs, but said that they were for entertainment purposes only,” court papers say, adding that the bombs were “fully operational and could cause great bodily harm or injury if handled improperly.”

“Other items found during the search, as well as text messages recovered from Rogers’ phone, indicate that the pipe bombs were not just for entertainment purposes,” court documents say. “For example, among the manuals recovered from Rogers’ business … were what appear to be two copies of a ” U.S. Army Special Forces Guide to Unconventional Warfare” and ” U.S. Army Guerrilla Warfare Handbook.”

Agents also found a sticker on Rogers’ vehicle that court papers say represents members of the “3 Percenters,” an anti-government, pro-gun group named for the theory that only 3% of American colonists fought the British in the American Revolution, court papers say.

After Copeland heard of the arrest he contacted a militia group both men belonged to, the indictment says.

“One of the militia group’s leaders advised Copeland to switch to a new communications platform and delete everything he had,” the indictment says. “Copeland agreed.

“Law enforcement officers searched Copeland’s residence on January 17, 2021, and recovered his electronic devices. Copeland’s communications with Rogers, which were in Rogers’ phone, were missing from Copeland’s phone.”

The Justice Department says Rogers remains in custody and has a hearing set for July 30. Copeland was arrested Wednesday at his Sacramento residence and is set for a detention hearing on Tuesday in San Francisco, court records say.

FBI agents found zip-tie handcuffs that allegedly were to be used in their plot, court records say, as well as anabolic steroids.

Court filings say Copeland has lived in California since 2007 but talked of leaving for a “more conservative state.” They also say he has no criminal record but describe him as an Army deserter who joined the military in December 2013, reported for basic training the next month and was arrested for desertion in May 2014 and again in October 2016.

He left the Army in November 2016 with an “other than honorable” discharge, court records say.

“Moreover, Copeland is a steroid abuser,” a motion to keep him in custody states. “He and Rogers purchased about $1,200 worth of steroids (including testosterone, Dianabol and oxandrolone) in late December 2020, and officers seized Copeland’s portion of the steroids when they searched his residence on January 17, 2021.

“It appears he replenished his stock — when agents arrested him on July 14, 2021, they found more apparent steroids in his apartment. Steroids increase irritability and aggression.”

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