Conway man arrested by FBI after threatening 'Dylann Roof-style attack'

A Conway man was taken into custody by the FBI after writing multiple threatening messages on Facebook and discussing an attack "in the spirit of Dylann Roof," according to court paperwork.

Benjamin Thomas Samuel McDowell, 29, of Conway, as arrested by the FBI on Feb. 15, according to J. Reuben Long Detention Center.

He appeared before a federal magistrate judge in Florence Thursday morning after being charged with violation of possession of a firearm and ammunition by a prohibited person, according to a news release from the U.S. State's Attorney's office.

Horry County police told the FBI that McDowell had established White Supremacy Extremist connections while serving prison sentences in South Carolina for various criminal offenses.

One post McDowell wrote in December, according to court documents, was about a synagogue in the Myrtle Beach area saying "I love love to act what u think" and then linked to the website for the synagogue.

He continued to write ranting posts about the white race and Jews on Facebook, according to court paperwork, and on Jan. 6, McDowell requested an "iron," which is a coded term for a gun.

However, on Jan. 12, McDowell met an undercover member of the FBI in Myrtle Beach, who McDowell believed handled problems for the Aryan Nations.

At a hotel in Myrtle Beach, while discussing what the FBI employee could provide him, the employee stated, "I have to make sure that...if you going to do what you want to do ... that doesn't come back to me."

McDowell told him that he didn't want an attack coming back on him either, and wanted to be "scot-free" and that he didn't want to go back to jail, according to court paperwork.

McDowell further "voiced apparent frustration with other white supremacists, stating that screaming 'white power' was not getting the job done," according to court paperwork.

During the same conversation with the undercover employee documented in court paperwork, McDowell said: "I'm wanting to do this ****, and I got the heart to do this. I seen what Dylann Roof did and in my heart I reckon I got a little bit of hatred and I...I want to do that ****. Like, I got desire ... not for nobody else .. .it just... I want something where I can say, 'I ******* did that' ... me personally." He further stated, "If l could do something on a ******** big scale and write on the ******** building or whatever, 'In the spirit of Dylann Roof."

In further discussion, McDowell said he had not decided on a place or time to conduct an attack.

He later told the FBI undercover employee that he needed a gun to conduct an attack on an unknown location outside the county where he resided.

Even after talking with the FBI undercover employee, McDowell continued to write posts on Facebook expressing his views and requested guns and ammunition.

On Feb. 15, McDowell met with the FBI undercover employee to buy a gun and to discuss his plan for an attack.

Soon after the gun was purchased from that employee, McDowell was arrested.

A preliminary hearing and a detention hearing for McDowell are set to take place on Tuesday, Feb. 21 at 2:30 p.m. in Florence, the release said.

ABC 15 requested a SLED background check for McDowell.

It showed that he was convicted of first degree burglary and attempted burglary in 2008 and was sentenced to six years in prison, but that was suspended to three years on probation under the Youthful Offenders Act.

He was also convicted of third degree burglary and aggravated assault in 2009. He was sentenced to five years in jail, but it was suspended to three years probation.

Later in 2009, he was convicted of another burglary charged and sentenced to six years in prison.

In 2011, he was convicted of petty larceny and then later of second degree burglary. He was sentenced to 18 months in prison for the burglary charge.

In 2013, he was convicted of malicious injury to personal property and third degree assault and battery. He was sentenced to 30 days in jail.

We will continue to follow this story and bring you updates as they come in.

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