An Ohio woman accused of plotting what she described as an "upscale mass murder" at a Toledo bar had glorified Dylann Roof and corresponded with the self-avowed white supremacist in federal prison, authorities said Monday.
Elizabeth Lecron, 23, of Toledo was arrested Monday after authorities said she bought two pounds of gunpowder and over 600 screws to be used in making a bomb two days earlier.
She faces a federal count of transportation of explosives and explosive material for the purposes of harming others and property, the U.S. Attorney's Office of the Northern District of Ohio said in a news release. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.
The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force began investigating Lecron after Toledo police received a tip in June that an individual had expressed desire to carry out a violent attack, FBI Acting Special Agent in Charge Jeff Fortunato said during a news conference.
Since at least July, Lecron had been corresponding with Roof, who sits on federal death row at a prison in Indiana for killing nine black parishioners at Emanuel AME Church in downtown Charleston in June 2015. Lecron had attempted to send him Nazi literature, authorities said.
On social media, she posted about other mass murderers, such as the Columbine High School shooters, whom she referred to as "God-like," Fortunato said.
After her Tumblr account was shut down because of offensive content, she started a new profile called "CharlestonChurchMiracle," which she allegedly used to post photos and comments about mass casualty attacks.
Lecron and an associate flew to Denver to visit Columbine High School, according to the news release. She posted online before the trip that it would be fun and she couldn't wait to post pictures, Fortunato said.
Law enforcement searched Lecron's residence in August and found an AK-47, a shotgun, multiple handguns, ammunition and a bag containing end caps that could be used to build pipe bombs.
They also found Lecron's journal entries that stated she had been involved in a plan to commit an "upscale mass murder" at a Toledo bar.
She said she wanted to form a team with other anarchists. Her plans evolved from wanting to set livestock free to planning to damage anything she viewed as harmful to the environment.
"Underlying all of these plans, though, was Ms. Lecron's fascination with mass casualty events," including the Charleston church shooting, said U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman.
Fortunato said Lecron's "fixation on violence" continued into September, when undercover agents became involved. When agents asked her about the possibility of killing innocent bystanders, she replied that they are "probably part of the problem."
Prior to this investigation, Lecron had no known prior interactions with law enforcement, Herdman said.
She isn't the first person accused of citing Roof as inspiration when planning acts of violence. In February 2017, the FBI arrested Conway resident Benjamin Thomas Samuel McDowell after he threatened to carry out an attack "in the spirit of Dylann Roof." McDowell was sentenced to nearly three years in a federal prison on a federal weapons charge.
John Russell Houser, who shot and killed two people and injured nine others before shooting himself to death at a movie theater in Lafayette, La., in July 2015, left behind a journal that praised Roof.