CLEVELAND — A Cleveland man was found guilty for his plot to kidnap and attack law enforcement officers "in order to start an uprising."
Christian Ferguson, 21, was found guilty by a federal jury of two counts of attempted kidnapping.
In April 2020, the FBI received a complaint from a civilian regarding several "violent and extremist" posts in an online chatroom by an individual, later identified as Ferguson.
Ferguson expressed his desire to call in false police reports in an attempt to lure in law enforcement officers to a remote location where they would be robbed of their weapons and armor and possibly killed, according to a news release from the Department of Justice.
The FBI began an investigation and in March 2020, observing Ferguson discussing the plot further in the chatroom, outlining a plan to buy high-powered firearms, creating homemade chemical weapons and leaving a "calling card" to promote media attention for the uprising he was trying to create.
Authorities said Ferguson hoped to inspire other militia groups as part of the plot against law enforcement.
In the chatroom, Ferguson also discussed his desire for federal law enforcement to be lured into his plot "because he believed they had better quality firearms and body armor to steal," and made statements about options for killing multiple targets and disposing of bodies, the DOJ release states.
“Mr. Ferguson then attempted to recruit others to assist him in this cowardly and despicable act," said FBI Special Agent in Charge Eric B. Smith. "We wish to thank those citizens who advised the FBI of the hateful and violent feelings Ferguson held for law enforcement."
As part of the FBI investigation, multiple FBI "confidential human sources" met with Ferguson on multiple occasions to discuss his plan. During these meetings, Ferguson engaged in practice drills with an AR-15 rifle and once conducted reconnaissance in a "dry run," authorities said.
Ferguson indicated to the FBI's sources that his "final play" would be in Washington, D.C.
On May 8, 2020, Ferguson facilitated a hoax distress call in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park to measure the response time from Park Rangers, and after believing that four federal officers responded to the call, indicated that "if that many officers respond to the actual event, they would likely have to kill them all," the release states.
Shortly after that, Ferguson was arrested. After being found guilty on Friday, Ferguson will be sentenced on Aug. 27, DOJ officials said.
“Mr. Ferguson devised a plan, and took steps to see it through, that involved placing a fake distress call to lure responding officers to the scene so that he could violently attack them, steal their department-issued weapons and equipment, and incite various militias to similarly attempt to overthrow the U.S. government and its institutions,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Bridget M. Brennan. “Exploiting first responders’ most solemn obligation – to protect and serve – as a way of luring them into a violent ambush and inciting violence against our democratic institutions was cowardly, heinous, and, as Mr. Ferguson’s jury determined today, criminal. The community members who reported this plan, and the federal agents who worked to prevent it, should be commended for their actions. Lives were saved.”