Three men from a southwest Kansas militia were sentenced Friday on charges of conspiring to detonate a bomb at an apartment complex in Garden City where Muslim immigrants lived, a case in which a judge said the planned attack was worse than the Oklahoma City bombing because it was motivated by hatreds of race, religion and national origin.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the trio were sentenced to 25, 26 and 30 years imprisonment.
“The Department of Justice works every day to thwart terrorist threats to the United States,” said Acting Attorney General Whitaker. “The defendants in this case acted with clear premeditation in an attempt to kill innocent people on the basis of their religion and national origin. That’s not just illegal—it’s morally repugnant. Today’s sentence is a significant victory against hate crimes and domestic terrorism, and I want to thank everyone who helped bring the defendants to justice—the dedicated professionals with the FBI, the United States Attorney’s Office in Kansas, the Civil Rights Division, the National Security Division, and our state and local law enforcement partners. Law enforcement saved lives in this case.”
“These defendants planned to ruthlessly bomb an apartment complex and kill innocent people, simply because of who they are and how they worship,” said FBI Director Wray. “Today, together with our law enforcement partners, we reaffirm our commitment to protecting all people in our communities from those who seek to terrorize and do harm.”
“Some people have described this prosecution as a civil rights case, a domestic terrorism case or even a violent crime case,” said U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister of the District of Kansas. “However you look at it, it is a violation of everything we stand for in America, equal rights, public safety and respect for law.”
“Today’s sentencing speaks to the FBI’s commitment to protect the communities we serve and our continued obligation to disrupt plots where the intent is to commit violence and harm others,” said Darrin Jones, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Kansas City Division. “This sentencing highlights the gravity of these crimes, and that actions motivated by hatred will not be tolerated. The FBI, with our law enforcement partners will continue to work aggressively to ensure those responsible are brought to justice.”
On April 18, 2018 after a five-week trial, a federal jury convicted Patrick Eugene Stein, 49, of Wright, Kansas, Curtis Allen, 51, of Liberal, Kansas, and Gavin Wright, 53, of Beaver County, Oklahoma, on one count of conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction and one count of conspiracy to violate the housing rights of their intended victims. Both conspiracies stemmed from the defendants’ plot to blow up the apartment complex in an effort to kill the Somali Muslim immigrants who lived there. The jury also convicted defendant Wright of lying to the FBI in matter involving domestic terrorism.
Evidence entered during the trial portrayed a chilling image of a faction group of the Kansas Security Force militia that came to be known as “the Crusaders.” The defendants plotted, over the course of several months, to attack an apartment complex that contained a mosque in Garden City, Kansas, where Muslim immigrants from Somalia lived and worshipped. The defendants held numerous meetings to plan the attack and took significant steps – including making and testing explosives – toward implementing their plan. During an eight-month-long FBI investigation, a confidential source, whom the government credited for thwarting the attack and saving the lives of innocent victims, recorded numerous conversations during which the defendants discussed and refined their plan. As the plan solidified, the defendants discussed obtaining four vehicles, filling them with explosives, and parking them at the four corners of the apartment complex to create an explosion that would be sure to level the building and kill its occupants.
During the course of the investigation, defendant Stein also met with an undercover FBI agent posing as a black market arms dealer, in an effort to obtain a bomb. During one of the meetings, Stein drove with the agent to see the apartment building that the defendants were planning to destroy.
Curtis Allen was sentenced to 25 years. Gavin Wright was sentenced to 26 years. Patrick Stein was sentenced to 30 years.
Whitaker, McAllister, Wray, Dreiband, Demers, and Jones commended the following law enforcement agencies and prosecutors for their exceptional and exemplary efforts investigating and prosecuting this important case: the FBI, the Liberal Police Department, the Seward County Sheriff’s Office, the Ford County Sheriff’s Office, the Garden City Police Department, the Dodge City Police Department, the Finney County Sheriff’s Office, the Kansas Highway Patrol, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, the United States Attorney’s Office, and the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division and National Security Division.