CONWAY, S.C. (WBTW) — Federal authorities have asked for a convicted white supremacist to remain behind bars, according to court documents.
Benjamin Thomas Samuel McDowell of Conway violated the terms of his supervised release, authorities argued Friday in U.S. District Court.
“Defendant has multiple admissions of drug use, including marijuana, methamphetamine, and suboxone,” documents state. “Defendant has a history of mental health concerns, a criminal history with some violence and some evidence of this propensity recently.”
McDowell was sentenced to 33 months in prison in 2018 for planning an attack on a synagogue “in the spirit of Dylann Roof” after he met with an undercover FBI employee to buy a gun. He had previously been charged with burglary, assault and battery, drug charges, larceny and malicious injury to personal property.
In 2017, prosecutors said McDowell told an undercover agent that he had not decided on a place or time for the attack, but the documents describe the scale of his plans. In one conversation, McDowell told the agent he wanted to “do something on a f****** big scale and write on the f****** building or whatever, ‘In the spirit of Dylann Roof.’”
In another alleged conversation, McDowell said “I just be plotting it out, like, I mean you just run up there on them if they back there partying, and all, with a f****** AK and rip them s********* down, and throw, a damn, something at them.”
During his sentencing, a Myrtle Beach rabbi read a letter stating that McDowell caused the congregation “tremendous mental anguish and distress.”
The letter ended by saying “in summary, this heinous act has changed our Temple community lives forever. We hoped that racism and anti-Semitism were matters of the past. Mr. McDowell’s actions proved that we were wrong, and it still exists in the 21st century. I think that Mr. McDowell is a dangerous man and I hope that he will be educated in jail and make the transformation to a peaceful citizen.”
He was released from federal prison on July 19, 2019.
An arrest warrant was obtained on July 12 of this year, and he was arrested on Aug. 4. The 35-year-old remains incarcerated in the J. Reuben Long Detention Center, as of Monday morning. No charges are listed.
Several documents, including ones for his recent arrest, initial court appearance and preliminary hearing, are sealed.
The order of detention pending trial from Friday ruled that “detention is warranted.”
His three years of supervised release required him to spend the first year on home confinement with electronic monitoring, to participate in a drug treatment program, to undergo mental health treatment and to receive vocational training.
In June 2020, the court learned that he was using suboxone, a medication used to treat opioid addictions, without a prescription, according to court documents. Six months later, he admitted to using marijuana on three separate occasions. He was given a violation of abeyance.
The court then heard that McDowell wasn’t taking his mental health medications, according to documents. He was required to do 100 hours of community service and was given a $25,000 unsecured bond and released on the same day.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations, CAIR, reached out to News13 after publication calling for McDowell to stay imprisoned.
“Mr. McDowell’s criminal record and his recent behavior make it abundantly clear that he remains a threat to the security of minority communities and our society as a whole,” said CAIR National Communications Coordinator Ismail Allison said in a written statement. “Authorities must do everything in their power to ensure his not given a chance to act on his bigoted views through acts of violence. He should serve his full sentence.”