North Carolina is not one of the states where the U.S. military training exercise dubbed “Jade Helm 15” is taking place this summer. Nevertheless, three men from Gaston County were charged with conspiring to arm themselves with illegal explosive devices to combat what they saw as a potential military takeover, according to court documents unsealed Monday in U.S. District Court in Charlotte.
The documents alleged Walter Eugene Litteral, 50, Christopher James Barker, 42, and Christopher Todd Campbell, 30, stockpiled weapons and discussed how to build homemade explosive devices. Litteral also allegedly tried to purchase a firearm for Barker, who is a convicted felon.
A tipster first contacted the FBI in June after becoming concerned that Litteral and Campbell were “preparing to use lethal force against United States government forces in order to defend against the imposition of martial law or other infringements on their rights,” according to an affidavit. The affidavit noted that the two men had discussed their belief that “Jade Helm 15” was actually a cover for the implementation of martial law with the tipster.
Litteral ordered a great deal of military-grade equipment from the tipster, including approximately 60 rounds of ammunition for a .338 caliber long-range rifle, Kevlar helmets and body armor, according to the affidavit. He requested that the equipment be delivered by July 15, the start date of the military training exercise. He also purchased smokeless rifle powder, two-way radios and balaclavas.
The affidavit cited recorded conversations that showed Litteral allegedly planned to have his house rigged with explosives should any government agents come knocking.
“Lemme tell you something I gunna have my fucking house rigged up these mother fuckers come try to come in my house its going off we gonna look here we’re partying,” Litteral allegedly told the tipster in a June 19 phone call.
In a July 15 conversation between Litteral and an individual identified only as “J,” Litteral allegedly suggested that his wife knew about his plans to rig the house and added that he’d stashed weapons for use against any government forces trying to enter the home.
“I got a fucking 45 beside my bed. I got a 45 and a 9 mil in my truck. I’ve got a 9 mil and a 380 or a 380 in her car. Safe full of weapons,” he said, as quoted in the affidavit. “You know what? Every time I open up this damn safe, I mean I’ve got, I’ve got at least 30 weapons that I can see and some tucked all the way in the back, back.”
A photo of Walter Eugene Litteral from his Facebook page.
Litteral further discussed his plans to build various homemade explosives with the tipster, according to the documents. One device, which he allegedly referred to as a “game changer,” would be made by packing nail-coated tennis balls with gun powder and an explosive called Tannerite. The documents said he explained to the tipster that he could shoot a coffee can packed with gun powder and ball bearings to make it explode and detonate pipe bombs by placing M-80 fireworks inside.
Campbell allegedly contributed to the plot by converting dummy grenades into live grenades while Barker supplied pipe fittings to construct the pipe bombs, according to the documents.
Campbell also informed the tipster that he and Litteral planned to set up camp on a 99-acre plot of land near Clover, South Carolina. There, Campbell allegedly said they planned to “booby-trap the camp and draw government’s forces into the camp and kill them,” according to an affidavit.
Interestingly, the court documents hinted that there was some tension among this group of survivalists. As early as July 3, Litteral allegedly told the tipster that he thought Campbell was “too high strung” and that someone who behaved like that would prevent him from protecting his family.
The three men didn’t appear to have prolific social media presences. A Facebook page that apparently belonged to Litteral showed that he “liked” pages for various patriot groups, including the Oath Keepers, North Carolina Citizen Militia, and the Three Percenters. Litteral had served in the Marines for 14 years, according to local TV station WSOC.
Campbell and Barker had criminal records, according to the complaints against them. Campbell pleaded down to a misdemeanor assault charge after being arrested in 2011 for kidnapping, aggravated assault and marijuana possession, while Barker had felony convictions dating back to 1993 for cocaine possession and possession of stolen goods.
It’s unclear whether the three men have attorneys. They are scheduled to be in court Thursday for a bond hearing, WSOC reported.
The news station spoke with Campbell’s fianceé, who declined to comment on the investigation but did say that she stood behind Campbell. Separately, two men who answered the door at Litteral’s house told a WSOC reporter that the charges against him were untrue.
TPM illustration by Derick Dirmaier. Photos via Shutterstock/ Przemek Tokar, Mecklenberg County Sheriff’s Office.
Catherine Thompson is a senior editor for Talking Points Memo in New York City. She came to the site in 2013 and reported on national affairs. Previously, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett. She can be reached at email@example.com.