Federal authorities said Monday they are confident that they foiled a planned attack on the Montevideo Police Department and possibly saved lives when they arrested a man with suspected white supremacist leanings.
Buford “Bucky” Rogers, 24, of Montevideo, was arrested and charged Friday with being a felon in possession of a firearm after federal authorities found suspected pipe bombs, Molotov cocktails and guns during a search of his family’s mobile home, according to a federal criminal complaint and affidavit.
Rogers, wearing a lime green construction company T-shirt and baggy pants stuffed in boots, made his first appearance in federal court in St. Paul on Monday. He was assigned a public defender and remains in custody until another hearing Wednesday.
Federal authorities learned Rogers allegedly talked about wanting to bomb the Montevideo Police Department.
Local authorities would only say that the general public was not at risk and that no schools, churches or public areas such as parks apparently were targeted.
Neighbors’ and Rogers’ own postings on Facebook suggest a man with troubling interests involving racial superiority and irritation with authorities.
“My son knew him for a short period of time, hung out with him,” said Bryan Best, a neighbor from the mobile home park where Rogers lived. “He talked about white supremacist stuff. I didn’t want [my son] hanging around with him, and fortunately he listened to me.”
Several postings on Rogers’ Facebook page from June 15, 2011, express his apparent irritation: “The NWO [New World Order] has taken all your freedoms the right to bear arms freedom of speach freedom of the press …” read one profanity-punctuated message.
According to the affidavit, FBI agents searched Rogers’ home while he was there and found the Molotov cocktails, suspected pipe bombs and a Romanian AKM assault rifle among the firearms.
Armored vehicles and FBI personnel, wearing camouflage uniforms and helmets, had their high-powered weapons at the ready as Rogers was arrested.
After Rogers was arrested, authorities searched his father’s trailer home on the north edge of Montevideo and found more than a dozen bombs inside a shed. Some of the explosives were described by authorities as being sophisticated pipe bombs and others that are the type packed with nails and other kinds of shrapnel.
Other bombs found in the shed were considered unstable, and a federal SWAT team that included bomb-demolition specialists removed the explosives and later detonated them, sources said.
“The FBI believes that a terror attack was disrupted by law enforcement personnel and that the lives of several local residents were potentially saved,” the agency said in a statement issued Monday.
Rogers’ strong anti-government views were well-known around town, drawing the ire of many because the family flew the U.S. flag upside down, according to persons with knowledge of the case. A sign in front of Rogers’ father’s mobile home was spray-painted with the letters B.S.M., standing for Black Snake Militia.
Federal authorities described the so-called group as having about six to eight members, including Rogers and his father, Jeffrey.
Jeffrey Rogers is believed to have similar political views as his son. He also had a U.S. flag hanging upside down on the roof of his home and on his car’s antenna.
Traditionally, flying the flag upside down is an expression of distress, specifically to life and property.
Rogers had multiple Facebook sites that expressed his anti-government views, one of which was under another name, sources said.
Photos in his Facebook account show him with various firearms, along with several people with guns and wearing clown makeup. There were also more postings such as: “ever one better get your guns ready cuz there comeing FEMA” and “The war is here tsa agents are doing random cheeks and shooting people for no reson.”
The plot was discovered and subsequently thwarted through the “timely analysis of intelligence and through the cooperation and coordination” among several federal, state and local agencies, the FBI statement said.
J. Christopher Warrener, the FBI’s special agent in charge in Minneapolis, said the action prevented “a potential tragedy in Montevideo.”
FBI spokesman Kyle Loven said Monday that “there is no indication of any overseas involvement” with the alleged plot. Loven would not address the timing of any potential attack or what was at risk of being attacked. He also would not say whether authorities were looking at other suspects.
During Rogers’ appearance Monday, U.S. District Judge Tony Leung asked Rogers whether he owned a vehicle or home or other assets. He replied, “No, sir.”
Rogers, a construction worker employed by J&D Construction, a company that manufactures grain bins, indicated he had been there for the past four to five months. When the judge asked him whether he still had a job, Rogers replied, “I don’t know.”
Rogers has a criminal record. He was arrested and charged with burglary, weapons theft, drug possession and intent to escape a motor vehicle tax in 2011, according to state records. A year earlier, he was booked for intent to escape a tax and theft, records show.
In an interview with authorities, Rogers admitted firing a weapon on two separate occasions at a gun range in Granite Falls, Minn., the affidavit said. Rogers’ conviction in 2011 for felony burglary in Lac qui Parle County meant he is not allowed to have a firearm. He also has a 2009 misdemeanor conviction for dangerous handling of a weapon in Hennepin County, as well as other criminal violations, according to online court records.
Kevin Lancaster, who manages a convenience store near the mobile home park where the arrest occurred, said he met Rogers about a year or a year and a half ago through a friend.
“He pulled a 9-millimeter [handgun] out of his pocket,” Lancaster recalled Monday. “I thought, ‘This isn’t a guy I want to know.’ ”
Star Tribune staff writer Nicole Norfleet contributed to this report.