Already suspicious of a military takeover of the U.S., Walter Litteral said he would drink a bottle of tequila and shoot up the FBI after being denied the ability to buy a semi-automatic rifle, according to testimony in a Thursday court hearing.
Days later, he was swept up in an FBI raid that accused three Gaston County men of illegally manufacturing explosives and purchasing firearms to violently resist the government.
Christopher James Barker, 41, of Gastonia, and Christopher Todd Campbell, 30, of Mount Holly were also arrested. Clad in orange Mecklenburg County jail jumpsuits, they appeared briefly in front of the federal magistrate judge Thursday to waive detention hearings. They will continue to be held in federal custody.
Testimony was only offered in the case against Litteral, a 50-year-old Gastonia man. Taking the witness stand at the federal courthouse in uptown Charlotte, Special Agent Mark Kozen of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force provided new details about the investigation that led to his arrest.
Kozen said an informant heard Litteral speak about his belief that the Jade Helm military exercises in the southwestern U.S. were a precursor to the government imposing martial law. He also legally purchased gunpowder from a military supply store in Gaston County.
Litteral’s actions crossed into illegal activity, Kozen said, when he began to use the gunpowder to make pipe bombs. He also attempted to purchase an AR-15 assault rifle at the Gander Mountain in Gastonia with the intention of giving it to Barker. As a convicted felon, Barker is not allowed to buy a gun.
Kozen said the FBI knew of the intention because the agency was intercepting Litteral’s phone conversations. Investigators blocked the sale of the gun, Kozen said.
When that happened, Litteral said on the phone that he would drink a bottle of tequila and shoot agents at the FBI, Kozen said. Litteral said that he did not want to shoot local police but would have “no problem shooting the suits,” Kozen said.
Kozen also said that Litteral described a 99-acre property in Clover, S.C., where Litteral was building a compound he would retreat to during a takeover of the U.S.
After Kozen’s testimony, the hearing was held up on a procedural matter and continued until Friday morning.