COLUMBUS, Oh. (WRIC) – Three men pleaded guilty on Wednesday to conspiring to attack the United States power grids as part of a white supremacist-fueled domestic terrorism plot.
Christopher Brenner Cook, 20, of Columbus, Ohio; Jonathan Allen Frost, 24, of West Lafayette, Indiana, and of Katy, Texas; and Jackson Matthew Sawall, 22, of Oshkosh, Wisconsin, were identified as the three defendants, according to a Department of Justice press release issued Wednesday,
Court documents say that Frost and Cook met in an online chat group in 2019, in which Frost shared the idea of attacking a power grid. The two men then began efforts to recruit others, circulating book lists promoting white supremacy and neo-Nazism. Sawall, a friend of Cook’s, had joined the efforts by late 2019.
The co-conspirators assigned themselves specific substations in different regions of the United States with the intention of attacking the grids with high-powered rifles. The defendants believed that such a disruption could cost the government millions of dollars and possibly catalyze a race war, or the next Great Depression.
In February 2020, the group met in Columbus, Ohio, where Frost provided an AR-47 and suicide necklaces. The necklaces contained fatal doses of fentanyl that were to be ingested, should any of the conspirators be caught by law enforcement.
Upon arriving in Columbus, Sawall and Cook hung a homemade swastika flag from a bridge at a park with the caption “Join the Front.” Later that very same Columbus trip, the defendants were pulled over during a traffic stop, in which Sawall swallowed his suicide pill but ultimately survived.
“These defendants conspired to use violence to sow hate, create chaos, and endanger the safety of the American people,” said U.S. Attorney Kenneth L. Parker for the Southern District of Ohio. “As this case shows, federal and state law enforcement agencies are dedicated to working together to protect this country against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”
The three defendants were each charged with providing material support to terrorism and face a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.