Shootout Leaves Florida Mosque Bombing Suspect Dead

Sandlin Matthews Smith, a 46 year-old Florida man who authorities suspect of planting a pipe bomb that exploded at a Jacksonville, FL mosque in 2010 was killed in a shootout with the FBI in Oklahoma on Wednesday.

According to the AP, authorities confronted Smith “in a field at Glass Mountain State Park” Wednesday after tracking him there late Tuesday.

When agents asked Smith to surrender, the shootout began. When it ended, he was dead and the bombing case appears to have ended with him.No one was hurt last May when the pipe bomb exploded during evening prayers at the Islamic Center of Northeast Florida. Authorities said the bomb was a large one and could have caused deaths and serious injuries had it been set inside the mosque rather than outside.

Shrapnel from the device was found up to 100 feet away.

The AP reports Smith “was facing several federal charges” related to the bombing, including “damage to religious property and possession of a destructive device.”

The Florida Times-Union, a Jacksonville paper, has a long readout on Smith and the events that led to the shootout. The paper reports that the case broke on April 28, when a tipster called in to say that Smith “told them that he had bombed a mosque and that the ‘feds’ were after him.”

More on Smith’s background from the paper:

St. Johns and Duval [County] court records showed no felony arrests under his name. But his life had been going downhill since November 2009, his wife told authorities. Smith, known to his friends as “Sandy,” was climbing a tree when he fell and broke both his legs; afterward he began taking methadone and “numerous” other medications for the pain.

After the April 28 phone call, investigators contacted others in Smith’s circle. One said Smith told her that he bombed the mosque because “he was angry about our men going overseas, fighting and dying,” according to FBI reports. Further, he “wanted to make a statement and show Muslims that they were vulnerable too.”

By the end of the weekend, the FBI had enough information to request and get an arrest warrant.

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