Five suspects were brought into custody by the FBI for conspiring to blow up the Brecksville-Northfield High Level Bridge in Cleveland after months-long sting operation.
The alleged culprits Douglas L. Wright, 26, Brandon L. Baxter, 20, Anthony Hayne, 35, Connor C. Stevens, 20, and Joshua S. Stafford, 23, were said to be anarchists set on attacking financial institutions and Brecksville-Northfield High Level Bridge that crosses a national park. The gourp initially plotted to attack several other sites around Ohio. They wanted to knock large bank signs off the top of a downtown Cleveland office, reported Reuters.
The FBI said that over the course of several months, the group had discussed several possible targets before deciding on the Brecksville-Northfield High Level Bridge. The group also hoped to attack a center where federal, state and local authorities coordinate operations and sometimes, pool their resources, reported Reuters.
The initial plot involved the use of smoke grenades to distract law enforcement in order for the co-conspirators to topple financial institution signs atop high rise buildings in downtown Cleveland, according to the criminal complaint obtained by CBS.
During the sting operation, the FBI learned that the five men had planned to obtain C-4 explosives and remotely detonate the bridge. Undercover authorities had supplied the anarchists with what they believed to be bomb-making materials.
The FBI said that the public was never in any danger and they maintained complete control over the situation.
The individuals charged in this plot were intent on using violence to express their ideological views, FBI Special Agent in Charge Stephen Anthony said in a statement.
According to the complaint, an undercover agent attended a protest event and followed the suspects. The FBI said that the group appeared displeased because the protestors and organizers did not act out violently. The undercover agent introduced himself to Wright during the event. After making initial contact, Wright invited the officer to a meet with him. During a series of meetings, beginning on Nov. 15, Wright divulged information regarding his group to the undercover officer.
Wright said that his group consisted of four other anarchists, the suspects listed above. He told the undercover officer that they attended previous protests in hopes of watching violence break out. They wanted to gauge police response and how to best counter that response as part of his alleged plan of destruction.
Wright met with the undercover FBI for several other months, sharing anarchist's tactics and his plans to blow up representations of corporate America. On March 28, Wright decided to attack Brecksville-Northfield High Level Bridge, believing that would cause financial damage.
The safety of the citizens of the Northern District of Ohio is and continues to be our primary focus.. The individuals charged in this plot were intent on using violence to press their ideological views, said Stephen Anthony, special agent in charge of the Cleveland field office, reported ABC.
Wright, Baxter and Hayne are expected to appear in federal court later today. Charges against Stevens and Stafford are pending.s