One day after Virginia Governor Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency over concerns of violence at a planned gun-rights rally, the FBI announced they arrested three white supremacists. The suspects are allegedly part of a fringe group known as The Base and have been under surveillance for the past few months.
Officials said that the timing of their arrest was related to the rally, scheduled to be held in Richmond on Monday (January 20). Two of the suspects, identified as Brian Lemley Jr., 33, and William Bilbrough IV, 19, were charged with transporting and harboring aliens and conspiring to do so. Lemley was also charged with transporting a machine gun and disposing of a firearm and ammunition to an alien unlawfully present in the United States and transporting a firearm and ammunition with intent to commit a felony.
The third suspect, identified as Canadian national Patrik Mathews, 27, was charged with being an alien in possession of a firearm and ammunition, and transporting a firearm and ammunition with intent to commit a felony. Officials said that he acted as one of the main recruiters for The Base.
Prosecutors said the men built a functioning assault rifle, purchased more than 1,500 rounds of ammunition, and acquired vests to hold body armor. They allegedly used encrypted chat rooms to discuss plans to commit acts of violence against minority communities.
While the three men had plans to attend the gun-rights rally, officials did not say if they conspired to commit acts of violence during the event.
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