A St. Cloud man who pledged loyalty to the anti-government group Boogaloo Bois pleaded guilty in federal court Wednesday to illegally possessing two devices that turn semi-automatic rifles into automatic weapons.
Federal agents started investigating Michael Paul Dahlager, 27, in November after a confidential informant reported that Dahlager had discussed "his willingness to kill law enforcement," according to an FBI affidavit in a criminal complaint filed in Minnesota U.S. District Court in April.
In December, after Donald Trump lost the presidential election, Dahlager attended a "Stop the Steal" rally at the State Capitol in St. Paul to record the scene and scout tactical locations and security presence. He told the informant he was planning to attack the State Capitol on Jan. 17, the day a nonviolent group of Trump supporters planned to protest the results of the election, according to the documents.
Coming shortly after the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, hundreds of state troopers — which Dahlager called an "army" — and more than a dozen journalists also gathered in St. Paul in response to reports of planned protests there.
"If it comes down to having a better world for my kids, I'm 100 percent going to die for my country," Dahlager told the informant, the documents say. "The state's standing army that we were warned about is at the Capitol."
Dahlager showed the informant his arsenal, which included tactical body armor, an AR-15 and a device to suppress the sound of a gun. He told the informant that his "house has portholes to make a stand if law enforcement confronts him at [his] home."
Five days before the planned attack, Dahlager abandoned the plan out of fear an informant had infiltrated his inner circle. He and other members of the Boogaloo Bois determined to instead focus on tactical training and recruitment.
On Feb. 3, Dahlager gave the informant gun-modifying devices, called "drop-in auto sears," which he said could last 10,000 rounds, according to court documents. Under federal law, auto sears are treated as machine guns.
"We are happy to see that Dahlager took responsibility for his actions and that these auto sears are off the streets," said Jeff Reed, acting special agent in charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives' St. Paul field division. "ATF is committed to investigating cases where individuals violate federal firearms laws, and we will stand alongside our FBI partners in protecting our communities from violent crime."
The Boogaloo Bois is a loose-knit and heavily armed organization that espouses anti-government — especially anti-police — sentiment and specializes in exploiting chaos with a goal of starting the next American civil war. The group has been particularly active in Minnesota over the past 14 months. Ivan Harrison Hunter, the self-proclaimed leader of the South Texas Boogaloo Bois, is accused of firing an AK-47-style rifle 13 times into the burning Minneapolis police Third Precinct headquarters while people were inside. Michael Robert Solomon and Benjamin Ryan Teeter were charged last year with attempting to sell auto sears to Hamas, and Teeter pleaded guilty in December.
Dahlager pleaded guilty to the felony charge in front of U.S. District Judge Michael Davis on Wednesday afternoon. He will remain in custody of the U.S. marshals pending sentencing.
Andy Mannix • 612-673-4036