Suspect's mother defends him after posts allege attack 'in the s - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Suspect's mother defends him after posts allege attack 'in the spirit of Dylann Roof'

Benjamin McDowell (Source: J. Reuben Long Detention Center) Benjamin McDowell (Source: J. Reuben Long Detention Center)

CONWAY, SC (WMBF) – The mother of a Conway man arrested and accused of planning an attack "in the spirit of Dylann Roof" said her entire family is currently in shock. 

The mother of 29-year-old suspect Benjamin McDowell answered the door of her home in tears Friday, just two days after the FBI arrested her son and charged him with felon in possession of a firearm and/or ammunition.

McDowell's charges stem from an investigation indicating he may have had plans to carry out an attack.

The affidavit detailing the FBI’s investigation notes numerous Facebook posts where McDowell writes about his allegiance to white supremacy groups and Dylann Roof, the man sentenced to death last month for killing nine parishioners at Charleston's Mother Emanuel AME Church in 2015.

According to McDowell's mother, when she saw her son last, she believed he was on his way to Alabama. Instead, he made his way to Myrtle Beach's Hampton Inn, the place where FBI agents would later arrest him. 

McDowell's mother stressed that her son's 84-year-old grandfather did not give him money to purchase the gun off of an undercover FBI agent, saying again the family was under the impression he was driving to Alabama and the money was for gas.

She said her father is very upset that people have been under the impression he gave McDowell money for a gun that could be used in any kind of attack.

When the mother was asked about her son's Facebook posts detailing an attack “in the spirit of Dylann Roof,” she said she believed someone set him up on the computer and that he wouldn't do this.

She described McDowell as a quiet homebody who is very close with his family. 

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