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Man accused of planning Dylann Roof copycat attack pleads guilty to weapons charge

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Benjamin Thomas Samuel McDowell

Benjamin Thomas Samuel McDowell. J. Reuben Long Detention Center/Provided

MYRTLE BEACH — A man accused of planning an attack he reportedly wanted to be "in the spirit of Dylann Roof" pleaded guilty to a weapons charge Monday, according to an agreement filed in federal court. 

Benjamin Thomas Samuel McDowell, 30, of Conway, faces up to 10 years in federal prison for being a felon in possession of a firearm. He was arrested by the FBI in February 2017 after meeting multiple times with an undercover agent.

During those meetings, he expressed hate for non-whites and "voiced apparent frustration with other white supremacists, stating that screaming 'white power' was not getting the job done," according to the original criminal complaint. 

"I seen what Dylann Roof did and in my heart I reckon I got a little bit of hatred and I...I want to do that (expletive)," McDowell is quoted as saying in the complaint. 

Horry County police indicated to the FBI that McDowell had developed connections with white supremacists while serving prior prison sentences in South Carolina. He also posted several racist and anti-Semitic messages on his Facebook page and at one point mentioned a synagogue in Myrtle Beach. 

During a meeting with the undercover agent, McDowell said he wanted to get off "scot-free" after an attack and did not want to return to jail. He eventually bought a .40 caliber Glock with a filed-down firing pin and hollow-point ammunition from the agent, according to court documents.

He was arrested in a Myrtle Beach hotel the same day. 

Reach Chloe Johnson at 843-735-9985. Follow her on Twitter @_ChloeAJ.

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