COLUMBUS, Ohio — Three men pleaded guilty on Wednesday to a domestic terrorism crime that involved plans to attack power grids throughout the nation.
Christopher Brenner Cook, 20, Jonathan Allen Frost, 24, and Jackson Mathew Sawall, 22, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to provide material support to terrorists, according to a release from the United States Department of Justice.
The release details an elaborate plan between the three to attack the nation’s substations with powerful rifles in an effort to “cost the government millions of dollars.” In doing so, the three men allegedly aimed to cause civil unrest and a race war, potentially inducing “the next Great Depression.”
Court records show Cook, who is from Columbus, met Frost in an online chat group in 2019. Frost, who lived in Texas and Indiana, reportedly shared his plans to attack the power grid with Cook, and the two began online recruitment efforts that included promoting white supremacist and Neo-Nazi ideologies.
Records show Sawall, who is from Wisconsin and already knew Cook, joined those efforts later that year.
According to court documents, the three met in Columbus in February 2020 to discuss the plot. During that meeting, Frost reportedly provided Cook with an AR-47 and gave both men “suicide necklaces” laced with fentanyl to take in the event they were stopped by law enforcement.
Also during that visit, records state Cook and Sawall spray painted a swastika flag and the words “Join the Front” under a Columbus bridge.
Authorities said further plans were “derailed” when Sawall ingested his fentanyl pill during a traffic stop, but survived.
Cook and Frost reportedly traveled to Texas in March 2020 to continue recruitment efforts prior to their arrest.
“Those inspired to commit terrorist acts in the name of hate pose a serious threat to our nation," FBI Cincinnati Special Agent in Charge J. William Rivers said. “I am thankful for the Joint Terrorism Task Force and our law enforcement partners who work each day to prevent this type of violence from occurring in our communities."
The three face a maximum of 15 years in prison.