Ex-militia member testifies in Kansas bomb plot case

WICHITA, Kan. – A former militia officer testified Monday that he left the group in 2016 after the massive shooting in a nightclub Orlando out of concern some of the other members were plotting attacks Somalis in their small Kansas community.

Brody Benson took the stand against three men accused of plotting to bomb an apartment building in the meatpacking town of Garden City, 220 miles (350 kilometers) west of Wichita. Benson said the Kansas Security Force had three divisions in the state, and the militia’s goal was to have the safety in case of a natural disaster or of an administrative division in that first reactions were not available.

Patrick Stein, Gavin Wright and Curtis Allen are charged with conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction and conspiracy against civil rights. Stein is also confronted with a weapon-related costs, and Wright faces a charge of lying to the FBI. The three men, who were indicted in October 2016, have pleaded not guilty.

Benson testified that he was “surprised a little bit by looking” statements Stein made to say Somalis should be exterminated, including women and children.

Much of his testimony focused on a June 14, 2016, meeting his shooting range in western Kansas, which he described as a “recruitment to carry out offensive action.” He testified, Stein and Allen were there, along with the Day on which the prosecutors have said, was an informant. That meeting took place days after the attack on a gay nightclub in which 49 people were killed.

Stein cited in the nightclub attack and spoke about the use of high explosives at the Garden apartments in the City, where the Somalis live, Benson said.

“It has me very worried,” Benson said. “I found it really not only to talk. It was more of an actual action, action.”

He said that he had been asked to resign from his position in the Kansas Security Force and leave the group.

“After that meeting I was ready,” he said. “I was out.”

Benson told jurors he also thought Stein maybe an informant of the government, because he was also trying to recruit people “to commit an unlawful act.” He said that he had no idea Day was the informant.

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