Missouri cases moving through courts highlight the rising threat of domestic terrorism

Three cases with Missouri ties have come to light at a time when authorities say violent incidents carried out by domestic extremists are on the rise across the nation.
Three cases with Missouri ties have come to light at a time when authorities say violent incidents carried out by domestic extremists are on the rise across the nation.

One is charged with plotting to assassinate President Barack Obama with a high-powered rifle.

Another, who court records said planned multiple killings of law enforcement officers, faces federal firearms charges that include possessing a machine gun.

And three former prison employees are charged with plotting to kill a black inmate who had recently been released.

All the defendants have Missouri ties and allegedly hold anti-government or white supremacist views. And the three cases come at a time when authorities say violent incidents carried out by domestic extremists are on the rise across the nation.

The most recent attacks, in Charleston, S.C., and at a movie theater in Lafayette, La., have left 11 victims dead. Had the alleged plots in the Missouri-related cases not been uncovered, authorities say, the death toll could have been even higher.

One of the recent Missouri cases surfaced in March, when a confidential informant told Morgan County authorities that a Stover, Mo., man was plotting to kill President Obama. Cameron James Stout, the informant said, planned to shoot Obama the next time the president visited Kansas City, according to an affidavit filed in the criminal case by a U.S. Secret Service agent.

The informant contacted a Morgan County sheriff’s deputy on March 13, saying Stout had asked him for a rifle and for help with his plan to shoot the president in the next few weeks, the affidavit said.

The informant, a former member of the Aryan Nations — a white supremacist organization whose members have been convicted of violent acts ranging from bank robberies to murder — said Stout told him he needed to obtain a high-powered rifle. The informant told Stout that he could put him in touch with a high-ranking Aryan Nations member who could help.

In one recorded conversation, according to the affidavit, Stout said, “I don’t want to annihilate anybody, I want to f------ change America,” adding that “if you had contact with the people that you say you had contact with, I could kill the president of the United States, and then we storm Washington, and then we take over the country that our forefathers created.”

On March 14, the affidavit said, Stout again brought up shooting the president. The informant said Stout drew two diagrams of the Washington, D.C., area and the possible shooting locations he had pinpointed through research online. Stout also had studied average wind speeds, humidity and barometric pressure in those areas and talked about the kind of bullets he intended to use.

The informant said Stout used a racial slur when referring to Obama.

Stout told the informant that he had considered shooting Obama when the president visited Lawrence in January but that his plan fell through, according to the affidavit.

On March 17, the document said, Stout and the informant met with an undercover officer posing as an Aryan Nations official.

In a recorded conversation, the affidavit said, Stout told the undercover officer that “he was a competent shot up to 200 yards” and that he planned “to set up at Crown Center” and shoot Obama the next time he visited Kansas City.

Stout was charged that day with threatening to kill the president. He pleaded not guilty and is being held without bond at the Morgan County jail in Versailles, Mo. A jury trial is scheduled for Nov. 30.

According to media reports, Stout’s mother has said he had no intention of killing the president but was drunk and just “blowing smoke.”

Machine gun

Across the state, another case was evolving in St. Louis.

In February, the FBI and the St. Louis police opened an investigation into David Michael Hagler after receiving information from two informants who said they were longtime friends of Hagler’s.

One said the 53-year-old was an “anarchist who holds extreme anti-government and anti-law-enforcement views,” according to an affidavit written by a St. Louis-based FBI agent on the agency’s domestic terrorism squad.

The informant said Hagler was becoming increasingly agitated, in part because of the events in nearby Ferguson, Mo., and his fear that the city would confiscate his property for failure to pay taxes. Hagler was proficient in weapons and combat tactics, the informant said, routinely practicing how to escape from handcuffs by hiding a key on his body or by swallowing and then regurgitating it.

According to the affidavit, Hagler had told the informant that he wanted to kill multiple officers, even discussing such scenarios as attacking a law enforcement memorial service or CrimeStoppers event. Hagler also said he had stockpiles of guns and more than 10,000 rounds of ammunition.

The second informant provided similar details about seeing an escalation in the extremist views Hagler expressed toward the government — especially law enforcement — as well as toward blacks and Muslims. The informant said Hagler frequently talked about building and possessing explosive devices and said he had hidden one in the flower pots on the front porch that he would detonate with gunfire if police ever came to his house.

When asked if he thought it would take out a lot of cops, the affidavit said, Hagler replied, “It should slow them down, man. It’d take all their legs out.” Hagler also showed the informant a handgun he had modified that would shoot three- to five-round bursts on every trigger pull, the affidavit said.

Authorities arrested Hagler on firearms charges on March 25. The next day, they searched two adjacent houses that he owned, seizing 19 long guns and 15 handguns, thousands of rounds of ammunition, a list of law enforcement officers’ names and phone numbers, a ballistic vest, and several items of drug residue and seeds.

In June, a grand jury indicted Hagler on counts that included possessing a machine gun and lying to firearms dealers when buying a weapon. Hagler pleaded not guilty and is being held without bond.

His attorney, Matthew Radefeld, filed a motion to suppress the evidence collected during searches of his vehicle, phone and residence, saying that the warrants were issued on the basis of false or uncorroborated allegations.

KKK members

Just a week after Hagler’s arrest, Florida authorities charged three men with one state count each of conspiracy to commit murder. The men, who were current and former employees of the Florida Department of Corrections, allegedly plotted to kill a black inmate after his release from prison.

All were members of the Traditionalist American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, based in Park Hills, Mo., about 65 miles southwest of St. Louis.

Prosecutors said Thomas Jordan Driver, 25, David Elliot Moran, 47, and Charles Thomas Newcomb, 42, planned the murder in retaliation for a fight between the inmate and Driver.

According to an arrest affidavit, authorities were notified of the murder scheme by a confidential informant inside the Klan. The informant was present during discussions involving Driver, Moran and Newcomb, the Klan chapter’s “exalted cyclops,” or leader.

Court documents said that in late 2014, Moran and Newcomb introduced Driver to an informant posing as a KKK member. Moran and Driver told the informant that they wanted the inmate “six feet under.”

The affidavit said the men, who regularly used a racial slur when referring to the inmate, had failed at their first attempt to kill him and still wanted him “terminated.”

The FBI then staged a murder scene with the cooperation of the former inmate. In March, the FBI gave the informant a cellphone that contained a photo of the scene, in which the inmate appeared to have been shot to death.

The informant recorded the defendants’ delighted responses when they saw the doctored photo, the affidavit said.

The three defendants have pleaded not guilty. One is being held on $600,000 bond, the others on $750,000 bond. A pretrial conference is scheduled for Oct. 12.

At a news conference announcing the charges, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi called the case “despicable.”

“We will not tolerate nor will we ever remain silent over the violence of hatred embedded in prejudice in this country,” Bondi said.

Frank Ancona of Leadwood, Mo., the Klan’s imperial wizard, did not respond to calls for comment about the charges. He told The Star in its series earlier this year about domestic terrorism that his Klan is a Christian organization that does not condone violence.

On March 12, however, Ancona posted on his Facebook page about the protesters in Ferguson: “I believe in the humane treatment of animals, but those animals in Ferguson have become rabid and they need to be put down before they infect others.”

The response from “Sarge Moran,” the name that authorities said was used by murder plot suspect David Moran: “You hit the nail right on the head, your lordship.”

To reach Judy L. Thomas, call 816-234-4334 or send email to jthomas@kcstar.com.

Related stories from Kansas City Star