The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) arrested three individuals on Thursday who were linked to a white supremacist group and suspected of plotting violence against minorities.
A Department of Justice news release names Maryland residents Brian Mark Lemley, Jr., 33, and William Garfield Bilbrough IV, 19, as well as Canadian national Patrik Jordan Mathews, 27, for charges related to firearms and illegal aliens.
All three individuals are allegedly members of a “racially motivated violent extremist group” called “The Base,” and were found to be discussing violent acts against minorities, bomb-making, recruitment, and the creation of a white ethno-state, in the group’s encrypted chat rooms.
Canadian authorities have been monitoring Mathews, a Canadian Armed Forces reservist, for several months due to the threat of potential extremist activities, the Associated Press reported in September.
Mathews was discovered to have entered the U.S. illegally on Aug. 19, 2019. Bilbrough and Lemley drove from Maryland to Michigan to retrieve Mathews and the three returned to Maryland.
Lemley, a former U.S. Army Cavalry Scout, purchased gun parts and together with Mathews, assembled them into an illegal machine gun. The pair then purchased some 1,650 rounds of ammunition, body armor plates, and were spotted traveling to a gun range where they shot the illegal machine gun.
The trio was planning to attend the pro-gun rally at the Virginia Capitol Square on Monday, according to the New York Times, although the Department of Justice did not confirm this.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam declared a temporary state of emergency on Wednesday that imposes a four-day ban on all weapons from Capitol Square grounds where gun rights activists are expected to demonstrate on Jan. 20 against strict gun control bills considered by state lawmakers.
Northam cited “credible threats” of extremist behavior and violence gathered by law enforcement sources as the basis for the declaration. He said the threats were reminiscent of the white supremacist demonstrations in Charlottesville in 2017, which resulted in the death of a woman.
Lemley was charged with transporting a machine gun, and disposing of a firearm and ammunition to an illegal alien, transporting a firearm and ammunition to commit a felony, and transporting and harboring an illegal alien.
Bilbrough is also charged with transporting and harboring an illegal alien.
Mathews is charged with transporting a firearm and ammunition to commit a felony, being an illegal alien in possession of a firearm and ammunition.
All of the charges carry a maximum sentence of between five and ten years in federal prison.
The three men were expected to make their initial court appearance on Thursday afternoon.