FBI stops attempt to blow up Cleveland bridge; 5 arrested

CLEVELAND, OH (TOLEDO NEWS NOW) - Five people were arrested and accused of conspiring to use explosives to destroy a bridge near Cleveland, the FBI revealed in a news conference Tuesday.

WOIO in Cleveland, reports the plans were to blow up the Route 82 bridge over the Cuyahoga River in Brecksville.

Arrested were:

  • Brandon L. Baxter, 20
  • Anthony Hayne, 35
  • Douglas L. Wright, 26
  • Connor C. Stevens, 20
  • Joshua S. Stafford, 23

Baxter, Hayne and Stevens were arrested by members of the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force on the evening of April 30, on charges of conspiracy and attempted use of explosive materials to damage physical property affecting interstate commerce.

Stevens and Stafford were also arrested.

The FBI said the public was never in danger from the explosive devices, which were controlled by an undercover FBI employee. The defendants were closely monitored by law enforcement. The explosives that the defendants allegedly purchased and attempted to use were inoperable and posed no threat to the public.

According to the criminal complaint filed Tuesday, Wright, Baxter and Hayne are self-proclaimed anarchists who formed into a small group and considered a series of evolving plots over several months.

The initial plot involved the use of smoke grenades to distract law enforcement in order for the co-conspirators to topple financial institution signs atop high-rise buildings in downtown Cleveland, according to the complaint.

The plot later developed to the utilization of explosive materials. The defendants conspired to obtain C-4 explosives contained in two improvised explosive devices to be placed and remotely detonated, according to the complaint.

The defendants discussed various bridges and physical targets in and around the Cleveland metropolitan area over the course of several months. The final plan resulted in the Route 82 Brecksville-Northfield High Level Bridge being the designated target. This bridge crosses from Brecksville, Ohio, to Sagamore Hills, Ohio, over the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, according to the complaint.

"The complaint in this case alleges that the defendants took specific and defined actions to further a terrorist plot," said U.S. Attorney Dettelbach. "The defendants stand charged based not upon any words or beliefs they might espouse, but based upon their own plans and actions."

All five had initial appearances in Cleveland Federal Court Tuesday afternoon and were sent to jail without bond pending a hearing Monday.

Investigators said the men wanted to make a statement against Corporate America. They face charges of conspiracy and trying to use explosives to damage property affecting interstate commerce.

"The threat we face is a diverse one: that terrorism can come in many hues, and from many homelands," said Steve Dettelbach, U.S. attorney.

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