The FBI on Saturday arrested a 23-year-old man who authorities say attempted to detonate what he believed was an explosives-laden van outside an Oklahoma bank. Officials say Jerry Drake Varnell of Sayre, Okla., was arrested around 1am after he twice dialed a number on a cellphone that he believed would detonate a 1,000-pound vehicle bomb in a van he had parked in an alley alongside BancFirst in Oklahoma City, reports KOCO 5 News. Except the feds were in on it all: A federal complaint says the FBI learned in December that Varnell wanted to blow up a building and that an undercover FBI agent posed as someone who could help. The alleged motivation? Extreme hatred of the US government, reports the Washington Post.
Officials say Varnell initially wanted to blow up the Eccles Federal Reserve Board Building in Washington, DC, with a device similar to one used by 1995 Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, whom he reportedly admired, reports the AP. He ultimately chose BancFirst at 101 N. Broadway as his target, assisted in building the bomb and putting it in place, and drove what he believed to be a stolen van himself, authorities say. Per the criminal complaint, he was not looking to cause mass casualties but rather to "somehow cripple the government." Varnell is scheduled to appear in federal court Monday afternoon on a charge of attempting to use explosives to destroy a building in interstate commerce. He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.