Arizona man planned mass shooting to start ‘race war,’ officials say

An Arizona man who planned to carry out a mass shooting at an Atlanta rap concert to incite a ‘race war’ has been indicted by a federal grand jury on hate crime and weapons charges fire.

The man, Mark Adams Prieto, hatched a plan during several discussions with two people working for the FBI who posed as racist extremists to carry out a mass shooting targeting black people and other people of color during a concert in Atlanta on May 14 and 15. , the Justice Department said on Tuesday.

Mr. Prieto intended to incite a “race war” before the presidential election, prosecutors said in a news release.

Mr. Prieto, 58, was reported to authorities last year by an acquaintance who said he made comments calling for mass shootings targeting black people and others, according to officials.

Mr. Prieto faces two counts of firearms trafficking, one count of transferring a firearm for use in a hate crime and one count of possession of an unregistered firearm.

He faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison for each firearm trafficking and transfer charge and a maximum sentence of 10 years for the unregistered firearms charge, prosecutors said. Mr. Prieto could also be fined $250,000 on each count.

A lawyer for Mr. Prieto was not listed in a court database as of Saturday evening.

Officials stopped and arrested Mr. Prieto, of Prescott, Ariz., near I-40 in New Mexico, on May 14, according to prosecutors.

He had seven firearms in his vehicle, and investigators executing a search warrant later discovered an arsenal of firearms in his home, including an unregistered short-barreled rifle and AR-15 and AK-style rifles. 47, according to the indictment.

Authorities were informed of Mr. Prieto in October by a man who had known him and frequently chatted with him at gun shows, according to an affidavit filed in court.

The man told authorities that Mr. Prieto began making alarming comments, “including advocating for a mass shooting, and specifically targeting ‘blacks, Jews or Muslims,'” the affidavit said.

The indictment says that beginning in January, at several gun shows in Arizona, Mr. Prieto discussed plans for a mass shooting with an undercover agent and the man who reported him. (now working as an informant).

During a conversation at a weapons exhibition in January. 21, Mr. Prieto enlisted their help in staging a mass shooting at a rap concert in Atlanta, where he believed there would be large numbers of black concertgoers.

Mr. Prieto suggested that they leave behind Confederate flags at the site of the attack and shout things like “Black lives don’t matter, white lives matter,” to make it clear that the shooting was racially motivated, according to the affidavit.

During several gun show meetings in February, March and April, Mr. Prieto explained tactics and how to effectively use his weapons in the attack. During that time, he sold the undercover agent’s firearms, according to the affidavit, and confirmed that the attack would take place during a concert at State Farm Arena on May 14 or 15.

Bad Bunny, one of the biggest names in Latin American music, later performed concerts at this venue on these dates.

As May approaches, Mr. Prieto suggested pushing back the date of the attack to June or July, stressing that this should be done before the November election. In May, he said he planned to travel to Atlanta to conduct reconnaissance around the arena.

He initially told investigators he was going to Florida to visit his mother, according to the affidavit. He later confessed to authorities about the planned attack, but said he had no plans to follow through with it.

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