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Two Men Arrested In Attempt To Bomb California State Democratic Headquarters

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Two men have been arrested in California and charged with planning to bomb the Democratic headquarters in Sacramento. Prosecutors describe the alleged plot as domestic terrorism. NPR justice correspondent Ryan Lucas reports.

RYAN LUCAS, BYLINE: As federal prosecutors tell it, Ian Rogers and Jarrod Copeland were not happy about Donald Trump's election loss to Joe Biden. And so in late November of last year, prosecutors say the two men began plotting to attack Democratic targets in California. Text messages cited in the indictment provide details of those alleged conversations, including one in which Rogers writes, quote, "I think right now we attack Democrats - their offices, et cetera - Molotov cocktails and gasoline."

GREG EHRIE: I think it's got to be taken very seriously.

LUCAS: Greg Ehrie is a former FBI agent who led the bureau's domestic terrorism section.

EHRIE: We're seeing usually what's called the tip of the iceberg in the indictment. That's not all the information, but the arrest means that it was done in order to foil an imminent attack.

LUCAS: Court papers say Rogers and Copeland ultimately settled on a target, the California state Democratic headquarters in Sacramento. The two continued to discuss the plan into the new year, when on January 6, a mob of Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., an attack that prosecutors say inspired Copeland. He texted Rogers in all caps, REVOLUTION. Five days later, Rogers messaged Copeland that they should hit the state's Democratic headquarters first and then maybe Twitter and Facebook. Copeland replied, quote, "I agree. Plan attack." Another text read that after Biden was inaugurated on January 20, quote, "we go to war."

Before that came to pass, Napa County sheriff's deputies arrested Rogers. They seized between 45 and 50 guns, 15,000 rounds of ammunition and five pipe bombs from his home and business. Copeland, meanwhile, was arrested this week by FBI agents. Both men face one count of conspiracy to destroy a building. Rogers also faces firearms and explosives charges, while Copeland is facing an obstruction of justice charge.

Ryan Lucas, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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