FBI arrests man who allegedly planned to bomb July 4 event in Cleveland

FBI arrests man who allegedly planned to bomb July 4 event in Cleveland
© Getty Images

The FBI on Sunday arrested a man who allegedly planned to detonate explosives packed in a van at a July 4 event in Cleveland.

Demetrius Nathanial Pitts, who resides in the Cleveland suburb of Maple Heights, Ohio, is being charged with attempted material support of a foreign terrorist organization. He allegedly conducted reconnaissance in downtown Cleveland, taking pictures of areas he was considering as targets.

Special Agent in Charge Stephen Anthony said the FBI has been investigating Pitts since 2017, and that the agency was alarmed by messages he posted to social media in support of the terrorist organization al Qaeda.

ADVERTISEMENT

“Pitts’ statements of violent intentions continued to cause concern during the investigation, as he expressed a willingness to conduct a U.S.-based attack,” Anthony said during a press conference on Monday. “His Facebook posts, quite frankly, were disturbing.”

Pitts reportedly spoke out strongly against the U.S. military and said he wanted to “chop off heads and hands.”

He told an undercover agent that “blow[ing] up a July 4 parade” would hit people “to their core.”

Pitts made an initial court appearance later Monday, where he was granted a public defender.

Reuters reported that Pitts wore a gray T-shirt, glasses and khaki shorts to the court appearance. He told the judge he was unemployed.

Pitts has previous criminal convictions dating back to 1989, including a jail stint for a 1993 robbery, Reuters reported.

—This post was updated at 8 p.m.