Crime & Courts

One of his bombs went off, but SC man had planned to do much worse, prosecutor says

Wesley Dallas Ayers
Wesley Dallas Ayers Spartanburg County Detention Center

He built bombs, planted them at various locations, and set one of them off.

That is what led Wesley Dallas Ayers to federal court Monday, where he pleaded guilty to multiple charges related to the construction and use of “weapons of mass destruction,” the U.S. Attorney’s office reported.

The 27-year-old Anderson, South Carolina, resident confessed to building and placing “three explosive devices in various parts of Anderson County,” between Jan. 24 and Feb. 24, 2018, according to U.S. Attorney Sherri A. Lydon.

One person was injured when a bomb planted by Ayers detonated at an intersection on Jan. 30, the U.S. Attorney’s office said. Two other explosive devices placed near roads “were intercepted” by law enforcement officers.

Ayers also placed three fake bombs in the area during that time, some with messages threatening that more bombs, and more-powerful bombs “were to come,” Lydon’s office reported.

Ayers was arrested following a month-long investigation that included the FBI, ATF, and the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office among other law enforcement agencies.

A search of his residence turned up a buried ottoman filled with explosive supplies, a photo of the White House on fire with a reference to jihad, clown and animal masks, and items with Arabic writing, according to foxcarolina.com. The TV station reported special agents learned that Ayers has a tattoo of a teddy bear with glowing red eyes, and one of the discovered pipe bombs was planted in a basket with a teddy bear that had “red, glowing eyes.”

Lydon’s office said Ayers pleaded guilty to “using, attempting to use, and threatening to use weapons of mass destruction; possession and discharge of a firearm in furtherance of a violent crime; and use of an explosive device during the commission of a felony.”

He could face maximum penalties of life in prison and a $250,000 fine, but will serve a mandatory sentence of at least 20 years in federal prison, according to the U.S. Attorney.

The U.S. has a deadly history of bombings with some of the most notorious cases dating back to the 1920s.

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