Prosecutors said alleged white supremacists who were arrested last week on a number of charges had expressed hope that violence at this week’s pro-gun rally at Virginia’s Capitol would start a civil war, said federal prosecutors in a court filing.
According to an Associated Press report, citing the court filing, a hidden camera captured members of a group known as The Base expressing their desires for war during the rally on Monday. Former Canadian Armed Forces reservist Patrik Jordan Mathews, 27, also said on video that he wanted to kill people, poison water supplies, and derail trains, prosecutors said.
The hidden camera captured Mathews saying the Virginia rally was a “boundless” opportunity, adding, “And the thing is you’ve got tons of guys who … should be radicalized enough to know that all you gotta do is start making things go wrong and if Virginia can spiral out to [expletive] full-blown civil war.”
The rally hosted at least 22,000 people and was described as peaceful. One woman was arrested by police for not removing her mask. Ahead of the rally, Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, declared a state of emergency ban on guns at the Capitol, citing a threat from a militia group. That was before the FBI arrested Mathews and two other suspected members of The Base.
But prosecutors stated Mathews and fellow alleged Base member Brian Mark Lemley Jr., 33, talked about plotting violence at the Richmond demonstration. Lemley said he wanted to ambush civilians and police officers, said officials, according to the AP.
“We could essentially like be literally hunting people,” Mathews said, according to prosecutors. “You could provide overwatch while I get close to do what needs to be done to certain things.” Lemley also allegedly said, “I want to claim my first victim.”
Prosecutors said the three suspects, which also included 19-year-old William Garfield Bilbrough IV, discussed plans to commit acts of violence since last December, reported the Wall Street Journal. They had stockpiled guns and ammunition, according to officials.
The group was communicating in person and via encrypted communications, said prosecutors.
According to a statement from the Department of Justice last week, the FBI arrested Lemley of Maryland, Bilbrough of Maryland, and Mathews before charging them with the interstate commerce of weapons and, in the case of Lemley and Bilbrough, transporting illegal aliens. The agency further described the group as a “racially motivated violent extremist group” and alleged they tried to manufacture a controlled substance, DMT.
Last Friday, the Justice Department charged a Wisconsin man in a separate case of being a Base member, alleging he spray-painted swastikas and anti-Semitic statements at a synagogue in Racine last fall.