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Terror suspect who planned attack on Downtown Cleveland was wanted at the time of his arrest

Posted: 7:22 PM, Jul 02, 2018
Updated: 2018-07-02 19:26:15-04

The man arrested for plotting a terrorist attack in Downtown Cleveland on the Fourth of July was a wanted man for two years before federal investigators busted him in his plans to attack innocent citizens.

The Philadelphia County Pennsylvania Sheriff's Office confirms an arrest warrant was issued for Demetrius Pitts in June 2016. Pitts was wanted for felony robbery in Pennsylvania when he was picked up in Cincinnati and ordered back to the Keystone State. But the sheriff's office said Pitts appeared in court, was released on bail, and then skipped his next court date.

Pitts also has two robbery convictions in Ohio dating back to 1989. Prison records show he spent nearly a decade behind bars on those two cases. He was also convicted on a felony theft charge in Columbus in 2008.

Federal investigators said they were first made aware that Pitts was using social media to post anti-American messages in December 2015.

"Pitts, a U.S. citizen living in Ohio, pledged his allegiance to al-Qaeda, a foreign terrorist organization, and was planning to conduct an attack in Cleveland on Independence Day, the very day we celebrate the freedoms we have in this country," FBI Special Agent in Charge Stephen Anthony said. 

Investigators said he moved from Hamilton County to the Cleveland area in May. Booking records show he was living in a Maple Heights nursing facility.

The 48-year-old told a federal judge on Monday that he was disabled and unable to work.