A Missouri man who was under investigation for allegedly plotting to attack a Kansas City-area hospital, possibly because he believed they were treating coronavirus patients, was shot and killed by FBI agents attempting to arrest him, CNN reports.
Authorities say the man, identified as 36-year-old Timothy R. Wilson, had been on the agency’s radar for months for unspecified “white supremacist activity.” Specifically, according to BBC News, he was motivated by “religious hatred,” “racist,” and “anti-government” beliefs, and had been labeled by the FBI as a “potentially violent extremist.”
Wilson had reportedly considered attacking in unspecified ways a variety of targets before settling on the unidentified hospital. Those potential targets, as stated, included a school where a large number of African American children attended, a mosque, and a synagogue.
However, he allegedly settled on attacking a medical facility after authorities in the Kansas City suburb of Belton issued a stay-at-home order to stop the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. As noted, the suspect may have believed that the hospital was treating coronavirus patients.
“Wilson considered various targets and ultimately settled on an area hospital in an attempt to harm many people, targeting a facility that is providing critical medical care in today’s environment,” according to a statement from the FBI.
1) Timothy Wilson, 36 yr old (now deceased) NeoNazi who attempted to bomb hospital amid coronavirus, underscores dire point: far-right calls to exploit this pandemic (laid out in new SITE report) aren't just trolling—these are real terrorist threats to a highly vulnerable public. pic.twitter.com/9Weed3o7kU— Rita Katz (@Rita_Katz) March 26, 2020
The FBI is keeping the details of the investigation under wraps. However, CNN notes that the agency — in particular when it comes to terrorism-related probes — relies on information from informants and/or undercover operators working with the suspect.
By Tuesday, the FBI had deemed that Wilson had taken “the necessary steps to acquire materials needed to build an explosive device.”
When authorities went to arrest Wilson, who was armed, he allegedly tried to retrieve his explosive device. What happened next remains unclear, but the agency admits that at least one agent fired a weapon at the suspect, killing him during the operation.
In its statement, the FBI noted that it takes all agent-involved shootings seriously, and will investigate the incident according to internal agency protocols.
“The review process is thorough and objective, and is conducted as expeditiously as possible under the circumstances.”
The coronavirus pandemic appears to have motivated white supremacists and domestic terrorists. Members of extremist groups have reportedly told members who get infected with the virus to intentionally spread it to law enforcement, or in places of worship attended by Muslims, Jews, and/or racial minorities.
Similarly, some extremist groups have reportedly discussed plans to “weaponize” the coronavirus.
“Threats or attempts to use COVID-19 as a weapon against Americans will not be tolerated,” Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen told prosecutors in a memo released this week.