A North Carolina man was charged today with planning to gun down “a large number of citizens” in attacks to support ISIS here in the United States, authorities said.
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Ironically, it was the suspect’s father who first alerted authorities to his son’s ISIS sympathies. As a result, 19-year-old Justin Sullivan was arrested over Father’s Day weekend.
The criminal complaint charges that Justin Sullivan planned to buy a semi-automatic AR-15 rifle at the Hickory, North Carolina gun show, and use it to kill people “at a bar or concert." Sullivan was arrested at his home in Morganton this past Friday and in a subsequent interview with the FBI, admitted that he looked online for nearby places to attack.
Authorities said Sullivan allegedly had plans for a “mass attack, while the criminal complaint states that authorities believe Justin Sullivan was radicalized by watching ISIS videos on social media.
Sullivan is charged with one count of attempting to provide material support to ISIS, one count of transporting and receiving a silencer in interstate commerce with intent to commit a felony, and one count of receipt and possession of an unregistered silencer, unidentified by a serial number. The charge of conspiracy to provide material support to a designated foreign organization carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The FBI first became aware of Justin Sullivan in April, when his father called 911, saying, “I don’t know if it is ISIS or what, but he (Justin Sullivan) is destroying Buddhas, and figurines and stuff."
In June, an FBI undercover officer made contact with him, and Sullivan told him he had converted to Islam, and was a “mujahid,” authorities said.
Sullivan told the undercover agent he should get “an AR-15 with split core ammo ... it’s fragmenting hollow points ... deadly,” authorities said.
He also wanted the undercover to “just kill a few people so that I know you are truthful," according to authorities.
Federal investigators said that among the people he wanted killed were his own parents. Sullivan also asked the undercover FBI agent to help him make a homemade silencer, and he made grandiose plans for a mass attack.
According to the charging document, Sullivan wrote the undercover officer, “500 is an incorrect body count." He said 1,000 was correct, “I’m thinking about using biological weapons ... coat our bullets with cyanide ... and then set off a gas bomb to finish the rest.”
In one of his last conversations with the undercover agent, authorities said Sullivan talked about a second attack, “we could use a U-Haul packed with bombs and then detonate it."