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S. Carolina man arrested for planning synagogue shooting

Benjamin McDowell sent out picture of Florida house of prayer, said he wanted to commit attack ‘in the spirit of Dylann Roof’

Temple Emanu-El in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. (Google Maps Street View via JTA)
Temple Emanu-El in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. (Google Maps Street View via JTA)

A South Carolina man who ranted against Jews was arrested after buying a gun to carry out a shooting “in the spirit of” a white supremacist who killed nine at a black church, according to a federal complaint.

Benjamin Thomas Samuel McDowell, a former convict with connections to white supremacists, was arrested Wednesday after he bought a handgun from an undercover FBI agent for $109 in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. McDowell is charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm.

McDowell, 29, allegedly told the agent that he was inspired by Dylann Roof, who was sentenced to death last month for the killings at the Charleston church in 2015, and that he wanted to commit a “big scale” attack and write on the wall of the building “In the spirit of Dylann Roof.”

McDowell had not decided on the location for his intended attack, according to the complaint, but had shared on his Facebook page a link to a local synagogue, Temple Emanu-El, in Myrtle Beach, with the message “I love love to act what u think.”

Police booking photo released Thursday, Feb. 16, of Benjamin McDowell. (Horry County Sheriff's Office via AP)
Police booking photo released Thursday, Feb. 16, of Benjamin McDowell. (Horry County Sheriff’s Office via AP)

According to a sworn FBI statement, agents began investigating McDowell after he threatened the synagogue.

He also seemed to claim that Jews were out to kill white people, writing on his Facebook page, “All they wanne do is stay loaded on drugs the Jews put here to destory white man and they fest on the drugs [sic],” according to the complaint.

McDowell doesn’t have an attorney. No one answered the phone at his mother’s home where he lives.

A US federal judge last month sentenced white supremacist Roof to death over the racially-charged killings of nine black churchgoers in South Carolina.

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