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A 19-year-old with a van full of guns and explosives plotted to assassinate Biden, federal officials say

The Washington Post logo The Washington Post 10/24/2020 Timothy Bella

Former Vice President Joe Biden, with Dr. Jill Biden and granddaughter Natalie Biden attend the Delaware Memorial Day Ceremony, in New Castle, DE on May 30, 2019. (Photo by Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto via Getty Images) © Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto Former Vice President Joe Biden, with Dr. Jill Biden and granddaughter Natalie Biden attend the Delaware Memorial Day Ceremony, in New Castle, DE on May 30, 2019. (Photo by Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto via Getty Images) As it was becoming clear in March that Joe Biden would be the Democratic presidential nominee, Alexander Hillel Treisman started to map out his plot to assassinate the former vice president, federal authorities say.

“Should I kill Joe Biden?” Treisman wrote in a caption to a meme he posted in April.

It didn’t appear to be an idle threat, the feds say.

The 19-year-old searched online for Biden’s home address and for night-vision goggles, and purchased an AR-15 in New Hampshire, according to federal court documents first reported Thursday by WBTV. At one point in May, Treisman ended up at a Wendy’s within four miles of Biden’s home in Delaware. And when he was arrested later that month in North Carolina, police searching his van found four rifles, a 9mm handgun, explosive materials, books on bomb making, and $509,000 in cash that’s believed to be his inheritance.

Those revelations all come in an order that a federal magistrate judge filed earlier this month outlining why Treisman, who was indicted by a federal grand jury in September on child pornography charges, should remain in custody.

It’s unclear whether Treisman will face additional charges related to the alleged plot.

News of the arrest is the latest violent threat against the former vice president to be broken up by authorities. A 42-year-old Maryland man was charged Wednesday for allegedly writing a letter in which he threatened to kill Biden and Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.).

Md. man accused of threatening to kill Biden and Harris faces federal charge

Originally from Seattle, Treisman, who also went by the alias Alexander S. Theiss, was arrested May 28 after tellers at the Fifth Third Bank in Kannapolis, N.C., reported a white Ford van abandoned in the parking lot. When the police in the town about 30 miles northeast of Charlotte arrived, they said they could see numerous guns and boxes of ammo in the windows.

“Further investigation uncovered several indicators that criminal activity was afoot,” Kannapolis Police Chief Terry Spry said in a statement to WBTV. “Federal agents were contacted and while awaiting their arrival the suspect returned to the business.”

Police initially arrested Treisman, who was carrying identification cards for Washington state, California and Florida, for carrying a concealed weapon, discovering that he had purchased weapons in at least four states. Federal officials then allegedly found 6,721 images and 1,248 videos of child pornography on eight different digital devices, according to the eight-page detention order.

Treisman pleaded not guilty to the three counts of child pornography earlier this month. He has not been charged with any crime related to gun possession. According to court documents, Treisman’s attorney noted he has been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome.

The judge’s order first reported this week, though, reveals that federal agents also found a wealth of threats and alarming Internet postings by the suspect.

In October 2019, the agents say, Treisman created a note on his phone that outlined “a plan to perform a mass shooting at a mall food court on Christmas or Black Friday.” Posting on Reddit under the name AlextheBodacious, he referenced executing those he hated. In another Internet post under the same name, he stated that he was “going to do a columbine for a while, [but] I think it would better to put it towards something more memorable.”

A video taken from Treisman’s cellphone in April showed the teen driving by the Mandalay Bay Casino in Las Vegas and praising the 2017 massacre that killed 58 and injured more than 500 in what became the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. “That’s the one, that’s where they did it … nice,” he said, according to the order. Another cellphone video taken in April at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago featured a male voice suggesting that it would be “awesome” to hijack a plane and crash it into a building.

The 19-year-old’s focus on Biden started in the spring, according to the order. Between March and May, Treisman ran a number of Google searches linked to his plot against Biden, including queries on state gun laws and rifle parts. Days after Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) suspended his presidential campaign, Treisman, who had suggested in a Reddit post that he had to “save bernie,” posted a meme with the caption questioning whether he should kill Biden.

He did so from the meme-sharing platform iFunny, which has become a popular hub for white nationalists and far-right propaganda. Last year, another 19-year-old was arrested for posting a meme in which he threatened to “slaughter and murder any doctor, patient, or visitor” at an abortion clinic.

‘Stop me if you can’: Teen arrested for allegedly threatening ‘slaughter’ at abortion clinic

Judging by cellphone records and financial transactions, federal officials say Treisman made his way to within a few miles of the former vice president’s home in Delaware on May 3, the Daily Beast reported. Biden campaign spokesman Michael Gwin declined to comment to The Washington Post and referred questions on the matter to the Secret Service, which did not immediately return a request for comment.

In an interview with a Joint Terrorism Task Forces official, Treisman acknowledged having “an interest in terrorist incidents and mass shootings,” and said he consumed YouTube videos and Wikipedia articles about the tragedies. He described how he had “lost friends because of jokes he has made about mass shootings and the 9/11 terrorist attacks,” according to the order.

A cellphone photo of a doctored Polish passport and a rental agreement for an apartment in Canada suggested that Treisman had made tentative plans to leave the country, according to officials. The day after he was arrested, his mother told him in a jail call to “jump bail,” the order said.

Treisman is being held without bail. Judge Joe L. Webster, a federal magistrate in Durham, N.C., noted that while the teen did not have any prior criminal history, the court concluded that “the record establishes by clear and convincing evidence that no combination of available release conditions would reasonably assure the safety of the community.”

Neither federal prosecutors nor Treisman’s attorney immediately returned a request for comment early Friday.

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