Three members of The Base, described by authorities as a “racially motivated violent extremist group,” have been arrested by the FBI. They were arrested on various charges that range from harboring aliens to the illegal transport of a machine gun, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Maryland.
In an interview with NPR, law enforcement officials said that the three men had discussed going to a controversial pro-gun rally in Richmond, VA, on Monday.
The men in question are William Garfield Bilbrough IV, 19, of Denton, MD; Brian Mark Lemley Jr., 33, of Elkton, MD; and Patrik Jordan Mathews, 27, a Canadian national who illegally entered the United States last summer.
Mathews’s house in rural Manitoba, Canada was the subject of a high-profile police raid last August, and he entered the U.S. just days after that happened. He was ordered out of his home so police could execute a search warrant related to suspicions that he was recruiting for The Base and acquiring guns for what the CBC called “a global neo-Nazi terrorist group.”
The Governor of Richmond, Ralph Northam, declared a state of emergency, banning guns on the capitol grounds before the event was slated to take place. “We have received credible intelligence from our law enforcement agencies that there are groups with malicious plans for the rally that is planned for Monday,” said Northam on Wednesday.
The firearms ban was initially challenged in court, but a Richmond judge upheld the order.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office said that Mathews and Lemley “purchased approximately 1,650 rounds of 5.56mm and 6.5mm ammunition this month, traveled to a gun range in Maryland from Delaware, where they shot an assault rifle, retrieved plate carriers meant to support body armor and brought at least some of the ammunition they purchased from Lemley’s prior residence in Maryland.”
Lemley and Mathew worked to build the illegal assault rifle in a residence in Deleware, according to court documents. The U.S. Attorney’s Office said, “Lemley and Mathews used an upper receiver ordered by Lemley, as well as other firearms parts, to make a functioning assault rifle,” citing an affidavit filed by FBI Special Agent Rachid Harrison.