Skip to comments.RNC Suspect Investigated For Texas Mansion Arson
Posted on 09/09/2008 3:28:24 PM PDT by devane617
A man arrested during protests during the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota is now being investigated for arson at the Texas governor's mansion in June.
The story was first reported Tuesday by CBS 11's sister station WCCO in Minneapolis.
Bradley Neil Crowder, 23, of Austin, is charged with one count of possession of firearms not registered to him after his arrest Sept. 1 in St. Paul. Prosecutors believe Crowder and another man, David Guy McKay, made Molotov cocktails which could then be thrown into a St. Paul parking lot where law enforcement parked their vehicles.
A high-level source confirms authorities are now investigating whether Crowder had a role in the June 8 fire that badly damaged the Texas governor's mansion.
The building was not occupied at the time of the fire. Gov. Rick Perry and his wife, Anita, had temporarily moved out of the mansion while a $10 million renovation and maintenance project was completed.
Crowder allegedly belongs to an organization known as the Austin Affinity Group, a group which FBI officials in Texas have been investigating since 2007, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Minnesota said.
The headline is misleading. It seems to imply that the suspect is a member of the RNC.
No bias here from a liberal Austin TV station
Yes. Unbelievably misleading headline. And deliberately so, I’m sure.
I agree. However, the FR policy is to post exact title.
I have heard that the main suspect is from the FLDS group from El Dorado, Texas. It is rumored that Gov. Perry said something earlier in the week, before the fire, that the FLDS did not like.
Probably not the FLDS. There are so many left-wing nutjobs in Austin that you could toss a rock and hit one on any street corner.
Re: "red actions"?
Authorities say members of the group traveled from Austin to Minnesota on Aug. 28, pulling a rental trailer that contained 35 "shields" crafted from stolen traffic barrels. The shields, confiscated by authorities, were outfitted with protruding screws and were meant to be used as "offensive weapons," officials said.
Crowder, identified as the leader of Austin Affinity Group, was arrested on Sept. 1 for disorderly conduct, the news release said. McKay, a member of the group, was arrested on Sept. 3 at a residence in St. Paul an apartment law enforcement authorities had been monitoring, officials said.
McKay and Crowder allegedly bought supplies for constructing explosive devices at a Wal-Mart in St. Paul. At the residence where McKay was arrested, St. Paul police officers seized eight assembled Molotov cocktails, along with gas masks, slingshots, helmets and knee pads.
Officials say that on Sept. 1, McKay had a falling out with members of the group and was planning to initiate "red actions" with others on Sept. 2.
The investigation was conducted by the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force, which includes officials from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the St. Paul Police Department.
Well, that’s true. :) But it is a fun place to visit.
Those EcoRadical, Democrat supporters. Anything for a headline.
True, but you apparently can add personal comments within square brackets alongside the title. Example [misleading title]
Check out the title on this one!
"2 Texas men charged in RNC scheme"
I could have bracketed the title. But, I wanted it to catch attention...and it worked.
by the way...welcome newbie
Thanks, but I’m not so ‘new’ anymore.
we’ll see how you do in a few years. have a good one.
Yes, this is the second headline today I have seen on this and both of them made it sound as if the RNC was guilty of throwing fire bombs!
Which is exactly what CBS did and which is what you are now complimenting as to how well it worked for you too.
i did not write the title. it is what it is. deal with it or don’t click on it.
Your words! So pal, like you said, you deal with your quote or don't post it. My reference was to the above compliment you gave yourself for thinking you were so clever. The title is what it is, your compliment shows you preferred it. Nothing more to it.
Lol! No freaking kidding.
I think that is DFW TV. Not Austin. (Splitting hairs I guess)
click on the link in #13 if you want a biased title
Sure did to me.
May 14, 2009
Note: The following text is a quote:
Austin, Texas Man Sentenced for Possessing Molotov Cocktails During the Republican National Convention
A 23-year-old man from Austin, Texas, who was connected to a group that planned to disrupt the Republican National Convention (RNC) in September 2008, was sentenced today in federal court to possessing destructive devices.
On May 14 in Minneapolis, United States District Court Chief Judge Michael Davis sentenced Bradley Neal Crowder to 24 months in prison and three years of supervised release on one count of possession of a destructive device. Crowder was indicted on Sept. 22, 2008, and pleaded guilty on Jan. 8, 2009.
This case is part of a two-year effort with the U.S. Secret Service, along with our state and local partners, to identify and address threats to the 2008 Republican National Convention, said Ralph Boelter, Special Agent in Charge of the FBIs Minneapolis Field Office. Threatening life and property in the name of a perceived cause is reprehensible regardless of the ideological influence that motivates the attackers.
According to Crowders plea agreement, he admitted that between Aug. 31 and Sept. 3, 2008, he knowingly possessed and manufactured eight Molotov cocktails, not registered to him or anyone else in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record.
Crowder was indicted along with a second defendant, David Guy McKay, 22, Austin, Texas. Following a mistrial in February, McKay pleaded guilty to three firearms charges on March 17, and is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Davis on May 21.
According to trial testimony, the FBI in Texas began investigating the group, labeled by law enforcement as the Austin Affinity Group, in February 2008. McKay and Crowder were members of the group.
On Aug. 28, Crowder and other members of the Austin Affinity Group traveled from Austin, Texas, to Minnesota. The group brought a rental trailer with them that contained 35 riot shields, made from stolen traffic barrels. The intended use of the shields was to help demonstrators block streets near the Xcel Energy Center in order to prevent convention delegates from safely reaching the convention. St. Paul Police seized these shields on Aug. 31.
According to trial testimony, McKay and Crowder angered by the loss of the shields, purchased supplies for constructing Molotov cocktails at a St. Paul Wal-Mart on Aug. 31, including a gas can, motor oil and tampons. They also purchased gasoline at a gas station. They then manufactured the eight Molotov cocktails at an apartment on Dayton Avenue where they were staying.
During a FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force investigation, authorities learned through an informant that McKay and Crowder had manufactured the Molotov cocktails. Crowder was arrested on Sept. 1 for disorderly conduct during an RNC demonstration.
During a conversation overheard by law enforcement through electronic surveillance on Sept. 2, McKay told an informant that he intended to throw the Molotov cocktails at police vehicles parked in a lot near the Dayton Avenue apartment. The parking lot was used as a checkpoint area for vehicles entering the security perimeter around the convention site. It was visibly patrolled by the U.S. Secret Service, various police agencies and the military.
During the execution of a search warrant by the St. Paul Police Department at the Dayton Avenue residence where McKay was staying when he was arrested, officers seized a variety of items, including gas masks, slingshots, helmets and knee pads. Under the kitchen sink, officers discovered a two-gallon gasoline container identical to the one purchased by Crowder and McKay at the Wal-Mart on Aug. 31. In the basement of the residence, officers found eight assembled Molotov cocktails. They consisted of bottles filled with gasoline with an attached wick made from tampons.
This case was the result of an investigation by the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force, which includes in addition to the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Ramsey County Sheriffs Office, the Secret Service and the St. Paul Police Department. It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jeffrey S. Paulsen and W. Anders Folk.
Social activist, organizer ... and RNC informant
It was all about stopping violence, says man who revealed alleged firebomb plot
By David Hanners
Updated: 01/01/2009 11:19:11 PM CST
In a federal courtroom in Minneapolis this month, the public transformation of Brandon Darby will become complete.
In the span of four years, he has gone from firebrand, never-trust-the-government activist in New Orleans to the confidential informant who helped the FBI arrest two Texas men on suspicion of building firebombs during the Republican National Convention in St. Paul last September.
“I feel like, as an activist, I played a direct role in stopping violence,” Darby, 32, said in his first interview on his role in the investigation.
Darby was the government’s chief informant in the investigation into David Guy McKay and Bradley Neal Crowder. The two Austin men are scheduled to go on trial in U.S. District Court on Jan. 26 for allegedly building Molotov cocktails during the convention. They are being held without bail.
Prosecutors claim the two men built the firebombs because they were angry that police had seized a trailer filled with riot shields they’d built and hauled to Minnesota.
In a conversation recorded by the FBI, McKay allegedly told Darby he planned to use the explosives on law-enforcement cars parked in a lot near the Xcel Energy Center.
“What if there’s a cop sleeping in the car?” Darby asked McKay, according to an affidavit by Christopher Langert, a special agent in the FBI’s Minneapolis office.
“He’ll wake up,” McKay allegedly replied.
McKay also is accused of telling Darby, “it’s worth it if an officer gets burned or maimed,” the affidavit said.
ACT OF CONSCIENCE
Darby had been working as an informant since November 2007, and in an e-mail sent to friends Monday, he conceded he was comfortable with that.
“Like many of you, I do my best to act in good conscience and to do what I believe to be most helpful to the world,” he wrote. “Though my views on how to give of myself have changed substantially over the years, ultimately the motivations behind my choices remain the same.”
Darby’s admission shocked Austin’s activist community, which includes people who have known Darby for years and worked with him on a variety of grass-roots organizing efforts.
“Everyone that knew Brandon has gone through a whole range of emotions. Clearly, he’s betrayed the trust of the community, and all the communities he’s worked with,” said Lisa Fithian, a social-justice activist who worked with Darby in Austin.
A spokesman for Frank Magill, the U.S. attorney for Minnesota, whose office is prosecuting the case, declined to comment.
E.K. Wilson, an FBI special agent and spokesman for the bureau’s Minneapolis office, did not immediately return a call for comment, but in the past has said the agency does not publicly discuss the work of informants.
McKay, Crowder and nine other people riding in a van with Darby had little reason to suspect he was a government informant, and Darby long had been known as having a strong mistrust of authority, particularly police.
“He and I faced the cops with arms, ‘law enforcement’ (and some within our communities) view him as very antagonistic toward the cops and all their flavors,” friend Scott Crow wrote of Darby on an online independent news site in November.
“He often tried to inflame situations,” Crow said in an interview. “He also spoke with a rhetoric that was pretty inflammatory, which could seem inciting to people. It was always put off as ‘revolutionary fervor.’ “
HELPING NEW ORLEANS
Darby was raised in Houston, had a little schooling after high school, became an emergency medical technician and had plans to work abroad helping civilian victims in war-torn areas.
But it was in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina that Darby made a name for himself as an activist, organizer and, as he calls it, proponent of “service-oriented direct action.”
After Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in August 2005, Darby, Crow and others started the Common Ground Collective, which describes itself as a “decentralized network of nonprofit organizations offering support to the residents of New Orleans.”
Common Ground began by delivering food, water and other supplies to people in the flood-ravaged city, and also set up an emergency clinic. Since then, it has attracted more than 22,000 volunteers and has expanded to provide various types of assistance to residents.
Darby said he saw firsthand what happens when government fails to protect its citizens.
“When I showed up in New Orleans, I was very angry at my government,” he said. “I felt that rather than just protest what happened in New Orleans in your own city, it was important to protest by going to New Orleans and doing something about it.”
But Darby said that while working on the Gulf Coast, he concluded that some activist organizations seemed more intent on promoting radical agendas than actually helping people.
“Common Ground had over 22,000 volunteers, and the vast majority of those were average working-class Americans who just wanted to help,” he said. “But what happens is, different political groups or people with ideologies show up and their focus is on their agenda. ... There was a lot of that going on.”
‘I SAID NO’
After working in New Orleans, Darby returned to Texas. He declined to speak in detail about when and how he became involved with the FBI, but court documents reveal he began working as an informant for an agent in the FBI’s San Antonio office in November 2007.
As for why he got involved with the FBI, Darby said it was because he discovered that people he knew were planning violence.
“Some of them had really bad intentions,” he said, adding that at first, he didn’t consider becoming an informant.
“I didn’t want to go to the Bureau about it,” he said. “But somebody had asked me to do something that would’ve resulted in hurting people, and I said no. So they started asking other people. At that point, that’s when I went forward and contacted somebody in law enforcement.”
By February 2008, Darby was involved with a group of activists in Austin, some of whom were making plans to travel to St. Paul to demonstrate during the Republican National Convention.
The FBI labeled the loose-knit organization “the Austin Area Affinity Group,” and Darby said he “intentionally” got involved with its members.
“There were ... people in the group who were openly saying they were going to stop the constitutional rights of other people and they were going to do things that could possibly break the law,” Darby claimed. “I’m pretty far from a Republican, but the people attending the convention had a right to speak.”
Crowder, 22, worked at a sandwich shop in Austin, and the FBI claimed he was one of the group’s leaders. McKay, 23, did graphic design work at an ad agency and was a member of the group, the government claims.
According to FBI affidavits, Darby provided agents with information about meetings the group had as well as meetings with activists in other parts of the country, including a planning meeting in Minneapolis in May.
He also purportedly provided information about riot shields McKay and Crowder had made from highway safety barrels they had stolen. A rented U-Haul trailer held 35 of the shields as well as helmets and batons.
Affidavits and testimony in pretrial hearings show that Darby was providing FBI agents with updates on the location of the trailer.
St. Paul police eventually found the trailer, broke the lock and seized its contents, but a federal magistrate has recommended that the shields and other items be excluded from evidence at the upcoming trial because police never sought a warrant to search the trailer.
Darby told agents that McKay and Crowder decided to retaliate by building Molotov cocktails. They bought the materials at Wal-Mart on University Avenue in St. Paul, then built the devices and stored them at the Dayton Avenue apartment building where they were staying.
Police later raided the building and seized eight firebombs in the basement.
PROUD OF HIS ROLE
Although the FBI zealously protects the names of its confidential informants, Darby’s name leaked out during a pretrial hearing.
Darby initially declined to comment, but colleagues were quick to come to his defense and dismiss the published reports. Crow had called the claim that Darby was an informant “an absolute ... lie.”
After getting Darby’s e-mail this week, Crow said he was shocked.
“I can only say it’s heartbreaking and it’s shocking. This is somebody who has been known to me for six years, and it’s shaken me to my core that somebody this close to me had been informing on me and others,” he said.
Darby said he’s proud of the role he played, and he believes it helped make life more “stable.”
“I decided that the way I was going about things was not the right way to do it,” he said. “While it may have satisfied part of me, it really wasn’t changing anything.”
Thank you for updating this thread Jim.