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Man accused of planning Dylann Roof-style attack whispers 'I love you' to family in court

The hearing for the Conway man accused of planning a Dylann Roof-inspired attack lasted only a few minutes.

Benjamin McDowell, 29, appeared in federal court in Florence on Tuesday and was expected to enter a plea and have his bond considered.

But McDowell waived his right to the preliminary hearing.

His attorney asked for it to be postponed, saying he needed to do more research and investigation before entering a plea or asking for bond.

McDowell's grandparents and mother were in the Florence court room. The 29-year-old suspect waived at them and whispered "I love you" to them a few times during the hearing.

His mother appeared extremely emotional throughout the court proceedings, wiping away tears as soon as McDowell came into the room and until he left.

After her son's hearing she said her son looked strong and she was happy to see him.

"I really can't say much. I'm just ready for it to be over. He's innocent until proven guilty and I love him. That's all I can give you. I'm sorry," Joann Clewis said.

She also said her son is a good kid and this is a total shock to her and their family.

She also said she is not going to comment on any reports or accusations by police. "He's a good kid. He's a wonderful kid. It's totally shocking."

She continued to wipe away tears as she spoke for just a few minutes outside the courthouse.


McDowell's attorney says a hearing will be set in the coming weeks for to discuss his bond and enter a plea.

He's currently charged with violation of possession of a firearm and ammunition by a prohibited person and was arrested in Myrtle Beach on February 15th after making plans to buy a gun from an undercover FBI employee.

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