Remember that guy up in Napa who was basically a character out of a Coen Brothers movie who was arrested in January just before Inauguration Day with a "White Privilege Card" and texts on his phone talking about wanting to blow up Twitter and "a democrat building" with pipe bombs? Well he and his accomplice/buddy have now been charged in federal court.
45-year-old Ian Benjamin Rogers of Napa and 37-year-old Jarrod Copeland of Vallejo are in some hot water over their Trump-fueled rage following the 2020 election. Both now face charges of conspiracy to destroy by fire or explosive a building used in interstate commerce, and the feds have evidence suggesting a plot to blow up the John L. Burton Democratic Headquarters in Sacramento. Rogers also faces additional weapons violations, including one count of possession of unregistered destructive devices and three counts of possession of machine guns.
According to a now unsealed indictment, per Bay Area News Group, the election of Joe Biden spurred Rogers and Copeland to begin planning attacks on Democrat Party and social media targets, with the Burton building chosen as their first target. They "believed that the attacks would start what they called a ‘movement,’" the indictment says.
Still hoping Trump was going to somehow swoop in and thwart Biden's January 20th inauguration, Rogers allegedly messaged Copeland saying, "let’s see what happens” and "after the 20th we go to war."
Rogers was arrested and his home and business were raided on January 15, and federal investigators say he was found in possession of five homemade pipe bombs, a cache of over 50 firearms including illegal assault rifles and automatic weapons, 15,000 rounds of ammunition, and several pounds of gun powder.
Rogers owns a business called British Auto Repair of Napa, and in a perfect portrait of toxic masculinity, here he is below in a photo from Facebook sitting in a Delorean. The only thing missing is an ammunition belt.
Copeland was arrested subsequently, and investigators say he was in touch with a member of "a militia group," possibly the Three Percenters (Rogers allegedly had a Three Percenters sticker on his car, though his attorney denied that he was a member of the group), who instructed him to switch to a new messaging app and delete all his communications with Rogers.
According to the indictment, when Copeland's phone was seized by the feds on January 17, all his messages with Rogers were missing. According to the Chronicle, Rogers has remained in custody these last six months, but Copeland was just arrested on Wednesday.
"Firebombing your perceived political opponents is illegal and does not nurture the sort of open and vigorous debate that created and supports our constitutional democracy,” says U.S. Attorney Stephanie Hinds in a statement. "The allegations in the indictment describe despicable conduct. Investigation and prosecution of those who choose violence over discussion is as important as anything else we do to protect our free society."
California Democratic Party Chair Rusty Hicks gave a statement to the Chronicle saying this plot is "extremely disturbing" and points "to a broader issue of violent extremism that is far too common in today’s political discourse."
As reported previously, Rogers' phone had texts on it saying things like "We can attack Twitter or the democrats you pick... I think we can attack either easily," and "I want to blow up a democrat building bad," and "I hope 45 goes to war if he doesn’t I will." One text made the plan more specific, saying, "I’m thinking sac office first target." Also, Rogers apparently talked about bombing the governor's mansion, and said he wanted to "hit the enemy in the mouth" with Molotov cocktails and gasoline.
In one response noted in the indictment, Copeland allegedly replied, "I agree. Plan attack."
The raid on Rogers' home and business began with a tip to the Napa County Sheriff about some illegal weapons, as KTVU reported in January. Without that tip, who knows what these fools would have done.
And for all of the would-be domestic terrorists that federal authorities have managed to intercept, we have to imagine there are many more who are still under the radar, which is legit terrifying.
FBI Special Agent in Charge Craig Fair said the agency’s “highest priority has remained preventing terrorist attacks before they occur, including homegrown plots from domestic violent extremists.”
Both Rogers and Copeland face maximum sentences of 20 years and $250,000 fines for the conspiracy charge, and Rogers faces an additional potential 10 years for the weapons charge. Copeland was separately charged with destruction of evidence, and that comes with an additional maximum 20 years behind bars.