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California man with 'fully operational' pipe bombs targeted Democrats, Twitter and Facebook in text messages, feds say

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 1/28/2021 Jordan Culver, USA TODAY
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A California man kept a collection of weapons and homemade pipe bombs before sending text messages indicating he wanted “to blow up a democrat building bad” in the days following the riot at the U.S. Capitol, according to the FBI. 

Ian Rogers, 44, of Napa, was charged by federal authorities with unlawful possession of an unregistered destructive device after law enforcement officers found five pipe bombs inside a gun safe at Rogers’ business, according to a criminal complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California

Police also found several guns and “other materials that could be used to manufacture destructive devices, including black powder, pipes, endcaps and manuals,” including “The Anarchist Cookbook,” “U.S. Army Improvised Munitions Handbook” and “Homemade C-4 A Recipe for Survival,” according to the complaint.

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The pipe bombs were "fully operational and could cause great bodily harm or injury if handled improperly," an FBI investigator wrote in the complaint. 

a person posing for the camera: Ian Rogers of Napa, California, has been charged with stockpiling weapons, including pipe bombs, U.S. prosecutors announced Wednesday. © Napa County Sheriff's Office via AP Ian Rogers of Napa, California, has been charged with stockpiling weapons, including pipe bombs, U.S. prosecutors announced Wednesday.

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Rogers sent a text to a person on Jan. 10, four days after the violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol that left five people dead, that called for an “attack” on “Twitter or the democrats,” according to the complaint.

“I think we can attack either easily,” he texted. 

He also said, “Let’s go after Soros,” which an investigator believed to be a reference to billionaire Jewish philanthropist George Soros. 

He texted the same person the next day, according to the complaint, saying, “I want to blow up a democrat building bad.” He added Democrats needed to “pay” and said, “Let’s see what happens, if nothing does I’m going to war.” 

He added references to a “sac office” and to “bird and face offices.” 

“I believe that when Rogers said ‘sac office first target,’ he meant that their first target should be the offices of California Governor Gavin Newsom in Sacramento,” an FBI investigator wrote in the criminal complaint against Rogers. 

The investigator added: “I further believe that when Rogers said that the ‘bird and face’ offices would be next, he meant the offices of Twitter (‘bird’) and Facebook (‘face’), because both social media platforms had locked Trump’s account to prevent him from sending messages on those platforms.” 

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Officers found 49 firearms – including “what appears to be a kit-built replica MG-42 belt-fed machine gun – and about 24 boxes containing thousands of rounds of ammunition at Rogers’ home and business, according to the complaint. 

Investigators also found Rogers car had a sticker commonly used by the “Three-Percenters,” a group described by the ADL as “anti-government extremists.” The complaint also includes a picture of a “White Privilege Card” found by officers. The card looks like a credit card, but the card’s number is “0045 0045 0045 0045” and is good until “death.” The name printed on the card is “Scott Free.”  

Rogers told investigators the bombs were “for entertainment purposes.” He was first arrested Jan. 15 on state illegal firearm charges. He’s being held in custody in lieu of a $5 million bail, the Justice Department said in press release. 

Investigators secured search warrants after receiving an anonymous tip that Rogers possessed illegal guns, officials said.

“We draw a bright line between lawlessness and our constitutional freedoms," U.S. Attorney David L. Anderson said in a statement. "We will prosecute illegal weapons stockpiles regardless of the motivation of the offender.”   

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Rogers’ attorney, Jess Raphael, said the anonymous tip came from a disgruntled employee Rogers had fired and who first contacted the FBI in September, but the bureau didn't pursue the case. In October, that employee contacted the Napa County Sheriff's Office, which reached out to the FBI, and the bureau again said there was no connection to terrorism, Raphael said.

But that changed after the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, the attorney said. Raphael, who is representing Rogers in the state charges, said his client has no connection to the riot.

“Mr. Rogers is not a member of any militia, or any hate group. He doesn’t espouse extremist views, even the tipster endorsed that when he was interviewed by law enforcement,” Raphael added.

Rogers is a supporter of former President Donald Trump and once attended a barbecue hosted by the Three Percenters but is not a member of the group, Raphael said. He said Rogers will plead not guilty to state felony charges at a hearing Friday and called the texts “drunken bluster.”

Contributing: The Associated Press.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: California man with 'fully operational' pipe bombs targeted Democrats, Twitter and Facebook in text messages, feds say

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