Gavin Wayne Wright

Gavin Wayne Wright is an American convicted of plotting to bomb an apartment complex in Garden City, Kansas, where Muslims from Somalia lived and worshipped.Roxana Hegeman, “Militia members get decades in prison in Kansas bomb plot,” Star Tribune, January 25, 2019, http://www.startribune.com/3-militia-members-face-sentencing-in-kansas-bomb-plot/504848242/. Following an 8-month-long FBI investigation, Wright was arrested on October 14, 2016 and charged with one count of conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction.“Three Southwest Kansas Men Charged With Plotting to Bomb Somali Immigrants,” Department of Justice, October 14, 2016, https://www.justice.gov/usao-ks/pr/three-southwest-kansas-men-charged-plotting-bomb-somali-immigrants. He and two co-conspirators were also later charged with one count of conspiracy against rights. The U.S. Department of Justice considers the charge a hate crime because Wright sought to interfere with residents’ housing rights due to their race, national origin, and religion.Mitch Smith, “Racist Terror Plot, or Just Idle Talk? Kansas Trial Hinges on the Answer,” New York Times, April 16, 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/16/us/kansas-militia-somali-bomb-plot.html. On January 25, 2019, U.S. District Judge Eric Melgren sentenced Wright to 26 years in prison.Roxana Hegeman, “Militia members get decades in prison in Kansas bomb plot,” Star Tribune, January 25, 2019, http://www.startribune.com/3-militia-members-face-sentencing-in-kansas-bomb-plot/504848242/.

Wright and his co-conspirators, Curtis Wayne Allen and Patrick Eugene Stein, called themselves “the Crusaders.” The group’s members espoused sovereign citizen, anti-government, anti-Muslim, and anti-immigrant extremist beliefs.United States of America v. Curtis Wayne Allen, Patrick Eugene Stein, and Gavin Wayne Wright, Criminal Complaint, (D. Kan. 2016), 2, https://www.justice.gov/opa/file/903106/download. The Crusaders were reportedly a subgroup of the anti-government militia Kansas Security Forces (KSF).Oliver Laughland, “Kansas town reels months after foiled mosque bombing: ‘I’m still scared’,” Guardian, February 22, 201, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/feb/22/kansas-mosque-bomb-plot-muslims-hate-groups. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the KSF shares its name with a larger anti-government coalition called the Three Percent Security Force, which claims to have chapters in several states.Stephen Piggott, “3 Men Arrested in Plot to Bomb Kansas Apartment Complex, Mosque Following Election,” Southern Poverty Law Center, October 14, 2016, https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2016/10/14/3-men-arrested-plot-bomb-kansas-apartment-complex-mosque-following-presidential-election. During the trial of Allen, Stein, and Wright, members of KSF testified that they believed the three men were too extreme.Christopher Mathias and Ryan J. Reilly, “These Pro-Trump Extremists Had a Plan To Kill Muslims. How Were They Radicalized?,” Huffington Post, April 18, 2018, https://www.huffpost.com/entry/domestic-terrorism-trial-kansas-trump-militia_n_5ad4e700e4b0edca2cbcb603. The FBI informant said other militia members did not want to join the plot because they believed it would result in everyone “thrown in jail and give militias a bad name.”“Accused Terrorists Were So Extreme They Scared Other Anti-Muslim Bigots,” Huffington Post, March 31, 2018, https://www.huffpost.com/entry/kansas-terror-plot-militia_n_5abd0e8ce4b03e2a5c7a53c9?ncid=engmodushpmg00000004.

According to an FBI affidavit, members of the KSF—including Wright, Stein, and Allen—maintained daily contact over Zello, a mobile app that simulates a push-to-talk walkie-talkie function.United States of America v. Curtis Wayne Allen, Patrick Eugene Stein, and Gavin Wayne Wright, Affidavit in Support of Application for the First Extension of a Mobile Tracker, (D. Kan. 2016), 3 https://www.splcenter.org/sites/default/files/kansas-affidavit-extended.pdf.

In June 2016, Stein convened a meeting with the Crusaders and discussed the need to respond to the June 2016 shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. The next month, the three co-conspirators and a confidential FBI source met at G&G Mobile Home Center, a business owned by Wright and where Allen worked.United States of America v. Curtis Wayne Allen, Patrick Eugene Stein, and Gavin Wayne Wright, Criminal Complaint, (D. Kan. 2016), 6, https://www.justice.gov/opa/file/903106/download. During the meeting, Stein and Allen suggested various targets for an attack, including Muslim-occupied residences and places of worship, city or county commission meetings, public officials, landlords leasing property to Muslims, and organizations providing aid to Muslim refugees.United States of America v. Curtis Wayne Allen, Patrick Eugene Stein, and Gavin Wayne Wright, Criminal Complaint, (D. Kan. 2016), 7-8, https://www.justice.gov/opa/file/903106/download. According to the criminal complaint, Wright opened up Google Maps on his computer and began marking these various locations on the map and labeled them “cockroaches.” Before the meeting, Wright had also researched guides for making explosives.United States of America v. Curtis Wayne Allen, Patrick Eugene Stein, and Gavin Wayne Wright, Criminal Complaint, (D. Kan. 2016), 2, https://www.justice.gov/opa/file/903106/download.

The three men eventually settled on a plot to attack an apartment complex in Garden City, Kansas, where most of the 120 residents are Muslims from Somalia.Reuters, “Kansas men aimed to kill as many Somalis as possible in terror plot, prosecutor says,” Guardian, April 17, 2018, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/apr/17/kansas-terror-plot-men-kill-somalian-muslims-hate-court-claims. The complex served as a hub for the Somali community and one of the apartments was used as a makeshift mosque.Mitch Smith, “Racist Terror Plot, or Just Idle Talk? Kansas Trial Hinges on the Answer,” New York Times, April 16, 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/16/us/kansas-militia-somali-bomb-plot.html. Wright, Stein, and Allen began to stockpile weapons and supplies for explosives, and surveilled the apartment complex.Christopher Mathias and Ryan J. Reilly, “These Pro-Trump Extremists Had a Plan To Kill Muslims. How Were They Radicalized?,” Huffington Post, April 18, 2018, https://www.huffpost.com/entry/domestic-terrorism-trial-kansas-trump-militia_n_5ad4e700e4b0edca2cbcb603.

Wright and Stein were arrested on October 14, 2016 and charged on federal charges including one count of conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction. Allen, who had been arrested earlier on October 11, was also charged with one count of conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction.Stephen Piggott, “3 Men Arrested in Plot to Bomb Kansas Apartment Complex, Mosque Following Presidential Election,” Southern Poverty Law Center, October 14, 2016, https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2016/10/14/3-men-arrested-plot-bomb-kansas-apartment-complex-mosque-following-presidential-election; “Three Southwest Kansas Men Charged With Plotting to Bomb Somali Immigrants,” Department of Justice, October 14, 2016, https://www.justice.gov/usao-ks/pr/three-southwest-kansas-men-charged-plotting-bomb-somali-immigrants. The group was later charged with conspiracy to violate the housing rights of intended victims based on their race, national origin, and religion, which is considered a federal hate crime.“Three Southwest Kansas Men Convicted of Plotting to bomb Somali Immigrants in Garden City,” Department of Justice, April 18, 2018, https://www.justice.gov/usao-ks/pr/three-southwest-kansas-men-convicted-plotting-bomb-somali-immigrants-garden-city. Wright and his co-conspirators were convicted on both charges on April 18, 2018.“Three Southwest Kansas Men Convicted of Plotting to Bomb Somali Immigrants in Garden City,” Department of Justice, April 18, 2018,  https://www.justice.gov/usao-ks/pr/three-southwest-kansas-men-convicted-plotting-bomb-somali-immigrants-garden-city. He also was convicted of lying to the FBI.“Three Southwest Kansas Men Convicted of Plotting to Bomb Somali Immigrants in Garden City,” Department of Justice, April 18, 2018,  https://www.justice.gov/usao-ks/pr/three-southwest-kansas-men-convicted-plotting-bomb-somali-immigrants-garden-city. On January 25, 2019, Wright was sentenced to 25 years in prison for the bombing plot and 10 years for charges related to violation of rights, to be served concurrently, and an additional year for lying to law enforcement.Roxana Hegeman, “Militia members get decades in prison in Kansas bomb plot,” Star Tribune, January 25, 2019, http://www.startribune.com/3-militia-members-face-sentencing-in-kansas-bomb-plot/504848242/.

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