Three Gaston County men have been accused of illegally manufacturing grenades and stockpiling military supplies to defend themselves from what they believed to be an impending attempt by the U.S. government to impose martial law, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Walter Eugene Litteral, 50, and Christopher James Barker, 41, of Gastonia; and Christopher Todd Campbell, 30, of Mount Holly, were arrested Saturday and charged with conspiracy to violate laws governing firearms and explosive devices.
The three came under investigation beginning in June when law enforcement was told that Litteral and Barker were trying to make explosive devices, prosecutors said. By July, investigators had learned that they were creating live grenades out of “dummy grenades” sold as artifacts.
Litteral had also begun purchasing .338 rifle ammunition, radios with throat microphones, military-issued Kevlar helmets, body armor and balaclavas – cloth headwear that disguises most of the face, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
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Prosecutors say Litteral and Campbell had also begun piecing together the equipment needed to make pipe bombs.
They believed all of this was necessary, prosecutors said, because they thought the U.S. would use its military to impose martial law. They planned to resist violently.
Their charges carry a potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The three are being held in federal custody.
In connection with the arrests, federal agents raided two Gaston County properties Saturday afternoon, and a third location was reportedly searched on Sunday.
Campbell owns the Capone’s Tattoo Parlor on Wilkinson Boulevard, which was searched by the FBI on Saturday. Campbell was reportedly not inside the business during the raid.
Staff researcher Maria David contributed.
WBTV contributed to this report.