WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The plot to bomb an apartment complex housing Somali immigrants in western Kansas was just the beginning of a plan by three militia members to “exterminate cockroaches,” a prosecutor told jurors Thursday.
“Defendants wanted to send the message Muslims are not welcomed here — not in Garden City, not in Kansas, not in America,” prosecutor Risa Berkower said.
The comments were made during opening statements in the trial of Gavin Wright, Patrick Stein and Curtis Allen on charges of conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction for allegedly planning to detonate truck bombs in the meatpacking town of Garden City, 220 miles (350 kilometers) west of Wichita. Stein also faces weapons-related charges and Wright has an additional charge of lying to the FBI.
The three men, who were indicted in October 2016, have pleaded not guilty.
Prosecutors have argued the men formed a splinter group of the militia Kansas Security Force that came to be known as “the Crusaders.” Wright is quoted in a wiretap transcript as saying he hoped an attack on the Somalis would “wake people up” and inspire others to take similar action against Muslims.
“The evidence will show that these weren’t just words,” Berkower said. “These hours of planning were not just talk. It was action.”
The government plans to present evidence that the men manufactured homemade explosives and tested them. It also plans to present testimony showing the men tried to recruit other members of the Kansas Security Force to join them, and warned them not to tip off law enforcement about the plan. Some militia members will testify they didn’t like Muslims either but refused to join the plan to kill people
But Dan Day knew the plan would go forward and innocent people would die, Berkower said. He struggled with what to do, prayed about what to do. And then he contacted the FBI, and later agreed to wear a wire.
“It was the hardest scariest thing he had done in his entire life,” she said. “He agreed even though he was scared.”
Attorneys for the three men are expected to make their opening statements later Thursday.