A white supremacist who expressed admiration for Dylann Roof and who investigators originally accused of plotting to attack a synagogue has been sentenced for federal gun charges.
31-year-old Benjamin McDowell of Conway was sentenced in federal court in Florence Wednesday for being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition.
McDowell was sentenced to 33 months’ imprisonment followed by 3 years of supervised release as part of his guilty plea.
In social media posts, McDowell advocated violence against non-whites and even expressed admiration for Dylann Roof and the extreme acts of violence carried out by him while other supremacists do not act.
Of particular concern to the FBI were McDowell’s comments regarding violence against Jewish people, leading them to worry he could attack a Myrtle Beach synagogue. In the plea Wednesday, the Justice Department clarified that McDowell never made specific plots against a synagogue but “did express a general desire to use the gun to commit acts of violence.”
McDowell also used social media to communicate an interest in acquiring a gun since a previous felony conviction barred him from owning one. In response, the FBI arranged for an undercover agent posing as a member of a white supremacist organization to become acquainted with McDowell for the purpose of determining whether McDowell intended to carry out any acts of violence.
McDowell and the undercover agent engaged in multiple recorded conversations during which McDowell reaffirmed his respect for Dylann Roof and spoke generally about committing acts of violence against people of the Jewish and Muslim faiths. McDowell also repeated his desire to obtain a gun.
During further conversations with the undercover FBI agent, McDowell eventually specified that he wanted a .40 caliber Glock pistol and .40 caliber hollow-point ammunition. The agent was able to set up a sting sale of a .40 caliber pistol and ammunition to McDowell in February 2017
The FBI provided the agent with a .40 caliber Glock which had been rendered “inert” by having the firing pin shaved down so that the gun could not fire. The agent met with McDowell and sold him the inert .40 caliber pistol and hollow-point ammunition for $109. Agents then arrested McDowell in Myrtle Beach, during which the pistol and ammunition were recovered from a bag he was carrying. During a post-arrest interview, McDowell admitted to agents that he had purchased the gun and ammunition.