Investigators disrupted an improbable plan to assassinate Sen. Barack Obama and kill 102 other African-Americans in a rampage fueled by white supremacist ideology, officials at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms said Monday.
Federal prosecutors in Jackson, Tenn., unsealed a criminal complaint charging two men with conspiracy, possession of an unregistered sawed-off shotgun and making threats against a presidential candidate. Daniel Cowart, 20, and Paul Schlesselman, 18, remain in federal custody.
The men met online almost a month ago through a mutual friend who was not identified in court papers. Their chats intensified and their scheme took shape, according to a sworn statement by ATF agent Brian Weeks.
Using a .308-caliber rifle and a high-powered weapon they planned to steal from a gun store, the men plotted to "drive their vehicle as fast as they could toward Obama shooting at him from the windows," the affidavit said. "Both individuals stated they would dress in all white tuxedos and wear top hats during the assassination attempt."
Cowart traveled from Tennessee to Arkansas to pick up Schlesselman at his residence Oct. 20. From there, they planned to rob a gun shop, target a predominately African-American school and attack Obama. The far-fetched plot fell apart.
The day after they met in person, the men tried to rob a home in Bells, Tenn., only to be deterred when they spotted a dog and two vehicles on the premises, Weeks wrote.On Oct. 22, they shot a window out of Church of Christ of Beech Grove in Brownsville, Tenn., according to court papers. The Crockett County sheriff took the men into custody that night. Authorities recovered a short-barreled shotgun, two handguns, a rifle and ammunition, they reported.