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U.S. man planned mass shooting targeting Black people to incite race war: FBI

Click to play video: 'Arizona man arrested for plotting mass shooting against Black people at Atlanta concert: FBI'
Arizona man arrested for plotting mass shooting against Black people at Atlanta concert: FBI
WATCH - Arizona man arrested for plotting mass shooting against Black people at Atlanta concert: FBI – Jun 15, 2024

An Arizona man allegedly plotted to shoot up an Atlanta rap concert, and specifically target Black people, with the goal of sparking a race war ahead of the U.S. presidential election, federal prosecutors say.

Mark Adams Prieto, 58, was indicted this week following a monthslong FBI investigation, and investigators allege he planned to murder as many Black people as he could with semi-automatic rifles he’d bought through trades and cash deals to avoid detection from gun regulators.

Prieto was indicted by a federal grand jury Tuesday on charges of firearms trafficking, transfer of a firearm for use in a hate crime and possession of an unregistered firearm.

According to an arrest affidavit on the case, which was viewed by NBC News, the investigation into Prieto began last October after a confidential source contacted the FBI in Phoenix to report that an individual had expressed desire to incite a race war. The outlet reports that the source had spoken to Prieto more than a dozen times over three years at various gun shows.

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The conversations, the source said, started out as casual chit-chat but eventually grew to political discussions. In the third year of conversing, Prieto began to make alarming comments, including “advocating for a mass shooting,” and specifically targeting Blacks, Jews or Muslims, the affidavit says.

In late 2023, he allegedly asked the source if they were “ready to kill a bunch of people?”

As their investigation continued, the FBI alleges that Prieto had discussions with two undercover agents “to devise a plan to commit a mass shooting of African Americans and other minorities to incite a race war prior to the 2024 United States presidential election.

“Prieto did not know the individuals were working with the government, but instead believed that they shared his racist beliefs and wanted to commit a mass shooting to incite a race war,” the U.S. Attorney’s office in Arizona wrote in a press release.

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The indictment also alleges that Prieto sold two rifles to an undercover agent in February and March of this year — an AK-style rifle and an AR-style rifle.

Meanwhile, the FBI monitored Prieto’s movements closely and on May 14 he was stopped by law enforcement driving from Arizona to New Mexico and discovered with seven firearms in his vehicle. A search warrant executed on his home in Prescott, Ariz., found approximately 178 more guns, including unregistered short-barreled rifles and automatic firearms.

The affidavit alleges that Prieto told the undercover officer he wanted to target a rap concert because “there would be a high concentration of African Americans at the concert.” He also allegedly expressed plans to leave Confederate flags and other racist propaganda at the scene following the shooting and wanted to show “no mercy, no quarter.”

Prieto stressed to both the source and the undercover agent that the most important thing was “a high body count,” per the affidavit.

“In his mind, it had to unequivocally be perceived as race related. He expressed frustration with the direction the country is going and a willingness to do violence to change its direction,” prosecutors said in a May 17 court document arguing for his detention pending trial, reports HuffPost.

Authorities did not identify whose concert Prieto planned to attack, but the two proposed dates coincided with the two nights Bad Bunny was performing Atlanta shows.

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A judge denied Prieto bail and said he must remain in jail until his trial begins.

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