FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) – The Conway man accused of planning an attack "in the spirit of Dylann Roof" and who purchased a gun from an undercover FBI agent in February appeared in federal court Tuesday and pleaded not guilty to the gun charge stemming from the investigation.
Benjamin Thomas Samuel McDowell, 29, had an arraignment hearing scheduled for 10:30 a.m. at the federal courthouse in Florence, according to court documents. After receiving a copy of the indictment charging him with felon in possession of a firearm or ammunition, McDowell pleaded not guilty.
McDowell was arrested at around 5 p.m. Wednesday, February 15 by the FBI, according to records from the J. Reuben Long Detention Center. In the months before his arrest, McDowell had posted to Facebook an anti-Semitic screed referencing Dylann Roof, then came into contact with an undercover FBI agent posing as a member of the Aryan Nation, according to a federal criminal complaint document.
McDowell met with the agent several times before the agent provided McDowell with a gun, the firing pin of which had been shaved down without McDowell's knowledge. He was arrested that same day in the parking lot of the Hampton Inn.
After his arrest, McDowell appeared in federal court for preliminary and detention hearings on Tuesday, February 21, but he waived them both, and remained behind bars. McDowell appeared in court a week earlier for an initial appearance on a charge of felon in possession of a firearm or ammunition.