Shoppers in North Central New Jersey narrowly avoided a tragic attack thanks to officials who thwarted a white supremacist who was plotting to “let loose” on Black shoppers at a local mall.
According to NJ.com, on Tuesday a Brooklawn, N.J. man identified as Richard Tobin was charged with conspiring with a hate group against the rights of minorities, including Jewish people.On the day of the planned attack, federal authorities say Tobin sat in his car, which was parked outside of the Menlo Park Mall in Edison, N.J., holding a machete and preparing to use it.
“Tobin said that he was triggered by the state of the country, such as when he saw a Pride parade or a large number of African Americans in one location,” FBI Special Agent Jason D. Novick wrote in court documents, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported. “There were so many African Americans around [the mall] that enraged him.”
His group, a neo-Nazi social network called The Base, refers to itself a “white protection league,” and seeks to see a version of America where the country is populated only by whites. Members are encouraged to participated in military training and prepare for the end of the world.
According to the report, “Tobin wanted to do something drastically violent, to go out in a “blaze of glory” like a suicide bombing, authorities said. He Googled “suicide by cop,” and read about creating an IED or car bomb similar to what was used in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.”
While his internet activity may have been disturbing, what drew law enforcement to him was an investigation into two synagogues in the midwest that had been defaced with Nazi symbols and anti-Semitic words. On Nov. 7, a search warrant was executed at Tobin’s home in which his computer and hard drives were seized and revealed his Google searches and an internet history that showed he’s been tracking articles about the crimes he’s suspected of.
Friday, Tobin appeared in federal court in Camden, N.J., and U.S. Magistrate Judge Karen M. Williams ordered that he be held before a detention hearing that 2 days ago determined that he will be held in federal custody as his case moves through the courts, documents show. Tobin appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Karen M. Williams in Camden federal court on Friday afternoon. She denied his request to be released on bail pending a mental health evaluation and ordered him detained.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Jersey did not want to comment on the hearing. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kristen Harberg told Williams there were no conditions of release that could ensure Tobin’s appearance in court and the safety of the community. She said in documents there was “strong” evidence against Tobin.
The complaint mentions several electronic records including Google searches and chat history, and Tobin also gave a lengthy interview to an FBI agent. In that interview, he displayed a fascination with bombs and mentioned wanting to go out in a “blaze of glory.” He also described sitting in his car at the mall in Edison, holding a machete and wanting to “let loose” on African American shoppers.
It’s unclear if anyone’s been charged with creating the graffiti on the synagogues.