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Granite Falls Advocate Tribune - Granite Falls, MN
  • Suspected terrorist captured in Montevideo

  • The Bloomington Bomb Squad and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) arrived in Montevideo just before noon on Friday, May 3. With assistance from the Montevideo Police Department and the Chippewa County Sheriff’s Office, they blocked off Northdale Park and surrounded a trailer and set up position with an armored ve...
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  • The Bloomington Bomb Squad and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) arrived in Montevideo just before noon on Friday, May 3. With assistance from the Montevideo Police Department and the Chippewa County Sheriff’s Office, they blocked off Northdale Park and surrounded a trailer and set up position with an armored vehicle.
    After the FBI called for those inside to come out, it appeared that two men were taken into custody while a search warrant was executed.
    One of the men, Buford “Bucky” Rogers, 24, was arrested on charges of being a felon in possession of a firearm, according to a criminal complaint filed by an agent with the FBI. The complaint also mentions Rogers was previously convicted of burglary in the third degree in 2011, in Lac qui Parle County. Rogers also admitted firing the weapon on two separate occasions at a gun range in Granite Falls.
    According to sources, components to make bombs and several firearms were allegedly inside of the trailer. A portion of the criminal complaint states, “agents conducting the search located several items including Molotov cocktails, suspected pipe bombs and firearms. One firearm recovered at Buford’s residence is described  by agents on the scene as a Romanian AK-M assault rifle.”
    A press release from the FBI says they believe a terror attack was stopped, and the lives of several local residents were potentially saved. “The alleged terror plot was discovered and subsequently thwarted through the timely analysis of intelligence and through the cooperation and coordination of the aforementioned agencies,” the release states.
    Special Agent in charge of the Minneapolis Division of the FBI, J. Christopher Warrener, stated that “cooperation between the FBI and its federal, state, and local partners enabled law enforcement to prevent a potential tragedy in Montevideo.” No information has been released at this time that names what the alleged target might have been, but several neighbors in Northdale Park mentioned Buford was allegedly a member of an anti-government group.  Neighbors also mentioned there had previously been an American flag flying upside down.
    “The FBI believed there was a terror attack in its planning stages, and we believe there would have been a localized terror attack, and that’s why law enforcement moved quickly to execute the search warrant on Friday to arrest Mr. Rogers,” FBI spokes man Kyle Loven told the Associated Press on Monday.
    Loven declined to elaborate about the location of the alleged target, other than to say it was believed to be in Montevideo.
    “As far as getting into targets, this is a pending investigation so I’m not able to get into (that),” he told the American-News. “All I can say is that the alleged attack that was planned was local in nature.”
    Page 2 of 4 - He also declined to comment on whether Rogers was believed to be acting alone or as part of a group, or if other arrests were expected, though he did mention to the Star Tribune that there was no indication of any overseas involvement. However, signs on the lawn outside Rogers’ home, and comments from neighbors, seem to indicate that Rogers was a member of a group called the Black Snake Militia.
    “It’s a small militia group that was formed by the Rogers family. It’s really not a large group, it’s friends and family, but they associate with similar groups,” said Adam Christopher, Montevideo Police Chief. “Some people are reporting that it is a white supremacy group, but that is not true. It is more of a militia, anti-government group. They call themselves patriots.”
    Mark Pitcavage, director of fact-finding for the Anti-Defamation League — a civil rights/human relations agency — is an expert on the topic of militia groups in the United States, and the founder of the now-archived Militia Watchdog website. He backed up Christopher’s statements.
    “Even calling it a group is kind of glorified. I’m going to call it a cell, which even glorifies it a bit. It’s more of a tiny, loose association of individuals. They had a name and not really much else,” Pitcavage said. “A  lot of militia groups will try to set themselves up with a web presence and set themselves up with a hierarchy and have training; these guys didn’t have anything near that level of sophistication ... It’s not an organized group, it’s just some guys. It’s obvious they don’t have much in the way of recruiting or organization skills.”
    As far as the idea of white supremacy goes: “I have not seen hide nor hair of that,” Pitcavage said.
    Pitcavage said that in recent years, there has been a shift from the militia mindset of the mid-and late-1990s. Before, the militia ideology was primarily shared among middle-aged men, but with the increased usage of social media, the message is becoming more accessible to a younger generation.
    To understand the mentality of many militia members, Pitcavage points to a Facebook page  he believes is owned by Rogers, which depicts images of a snake with the words “Don’t tread on me” repeated throughout the page. The page also shows an image of a man dressed in camo and a mask holding a firearm.
    “It gives you an understanding of their mindset,” Pitcavage said.
    A sign in Rogers’ yard read “No more I.F.R.D we are not slaves.” Pitcavage explained the sign refers to a conspiracy theory in which the Affordable Care Act would require radio frequency identification (RFID) chips in U.S. citizens.
    Page 3 of 4 - “This shows you the conspiracy mindset these guys are in,” Pitcavage said.
    In an interview with the Marshall Independent, Buford Rogers’ father, Jeff Rogers, said his son was innocent.
    “All the guns are registered to me,” Jeff Rogers said. “He doesn’t live here and hasn’t for over a year.”
    Jeff Rogers said his son had straightened out his life since the burglary conviction.
    “Bucky is not a terrorist,” Jeff Rogers said. “He is not out to bomb anyone. He’s a patriot like we all should be.”
    As far as the FBI’s report of bombs, the family denies any such allegation.
    “Bombs in the house, gimme a break!” said Jeff Rogers’ wife, Margaret. “If there were we’d have known about it and we’d have told him to take them apart. And his girlfriend wouldn’t have stood for it.”
    The family claims the only materials found in a search of the shed and under the trailer were pipe scraps for plumbing and household chemicals.
    While it may be frustrating to locals to not know what the target of the alleged attack was, Chief Christopher said that there is no cause for stress or concern.
    Christopher said residents don’t need to worry about not knowing if their school, business or building was the target of any alleged plot.
    “Those people ... know about it,” Christopher said. Not knowing if your location was the target of any alleged plot, Christopher clarified, means it wasn’t.
    Christopher also addressed complaints about the schools being locked down, except for Ramsey Elementary, which was the closest to the incident.
    “That’s simply not true ... there was no threat to any of the schools and they were not locked down,” he said.
    He later added, “The safest place for kids to be  is in their schools.”
    Christopher commended the school district for doing a great job at looking out for concerns, and reacting appropriately.
    “Had there been a concern for safety at any of the schools or anywhere else those folks would've been notified,” he said.
    Christopher explained that authorities were successful in isolating the incident, and focusing on the safety of the officers involved and carrying out the search warrant.
    “The response was very well orchestrated and handled,” Christopher said. He said that the warrant and arrest were carried out without resistance or incident.
    Page 4 of 4 - Rogers was kept in custody at the Chippewa County jail over the weekend, and transferred into federal custody early Monday morning.
    He appeared in federal court Monday afternoon. Judge Tony Leung asked him if he owned any other vehicles or assets, to which he replied, “No sir.” Rogers will be represented by a public defender and will be kept in custody until at least Wednesday, when he’ll have another hearing to determine detention.
    The FBI, the Montevideo Police Department, the Chippewa County Sheriff’s Office, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the Minnesota State Highway Patrol, the Bloomington Police Department, the Minnehaha County Sheriff’s Office (South Dakota), the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and members of the Cooperative Enforcement Effort all contributed to the investigation and execution of the search warrant.

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