A 23-year-old man was arrested Saturday for trying to blow up a downtown Oklahoma City bank with a 1,000-pound bomb, the FBI said in a complaint filed Sunday.
Jerry Drake Varnell was taken into custody around 1 a.m. on Saturday after driving a van loaded with fake explosives to a branch of BancFirst in Oklahoma’s capital city. Varnell, who helped undercover agents load the van with explosives and drove it to an alley next to the bank, dialed a number on a cell phone that he thought would detonate the bomb. When there was no explosion, he dialed it again. And again. That’s when the FBI arrived.
Inspired by Timothy McVeigh, the terrorist who killed 168 people at Oklahoma City’s Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in 1995, Varnell was also a follower of the Three Percenters movement. The anti-government group is dedicated to gun rights and is named for the contested statistic that only 3 percent of people took up arms against the British during the American revolution. The group was present at this weekend’s rally in Virginia, where it served as “armed guards” for white-supremacist leaders, BuzzFeed reports.
Varnell told an FBI informant that he “wanted to start the next revolution.”
“I’m out for blood,” he said, according to court documents. “When militias start getting formed I’m going after government officials when I have a team.”
Before settling on the Oklahoma City bank, Varnell debated possible targets for his bombing, including the Federal Reserve Building in Washington, D.C., an IRS building in Texas, and Facebook data servers. The FBI complaint says Varnell was given multiple chances to cancel the planned attack, but he insisted on moving forward.
As the time for the attack approached, Varnell gave the informant a note he wanted posted to Facebook after the bombing.
“What happened in Oklahoma city was not an attack on America, it was retaliation. Retaliation against the freedoms that have been taken away from the American people. It was a wake up call to both the government and the people. An act done to show the government what the people thinks of its actions. It is also a call to arms, to show people that there are still fighters among the American people. The time for revolution is now.”
The Facebook message was an important part of the bombing, Varnell allegedly said. The last thing he wanted was to pull off a terror attack in the name of antigovernment extremism and have ISIS take credit.