4 men arrested on gun charges, 3 suspected in mosque bombing
Authorities say they have arrested four men from rural central Illinois on gun charges, three of which they believe are suspects in the bombing of a Minnesota mosque and an attempted bombing of a Champaign Women's Health Practice.
A Tuesday statement from the U.S. attorney's office in Springfield announced the arrests on charges of possession of a machine gun. The statement adds that the three men are suspects in the Aug. 5 explosion at the Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington, Minnesota, and the Women's Health Practice in Champaign on Nov. 7.
It identifies them as Michael B. Hari, 47; Joe Morris, 22; Michael McWhorter, 29. All are from Clarence, a rural community 35 miles north of Champaign-Urbana.
At least one of the men is believed to be connected with the Clarence bomb incident that took place back in February.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
This morning, FBI agents arrested four rural east central Illinois men on a criminal complaint that charges them with possession of a machine gun. The men arrested and charged are: Michael B. Hari, 47; Joe Morris, 22; Michael McWhorter, 29; and, Ellis Mack, 18, all of Clarence, Ill., a rural community approximately 35 miles north of Champaign-Urbana.
FBI agents arrested Hari this morning as he was traveling to a court appearance in Ford county, Ill., for a hearing in an alleged assault case pending against Hari.
Hari and Morris made their initial appearances in federal court this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Eric I. Long. McWhorter and Mack will make their respective initial appearances at a date to be determined by the U.S. Clerk of the Court.
The arrest and charges were announced by FBI Special Agent in Charge Sean Cox, Springfield Division, and U.S. Attorney John E. Childress.
The affidavit filed in support of the complaint alleges that the four men were in possession of assault rifles from October 2017 to March 2018. According to the affidavit, law enforcement agents have gathered evidence to indicate that Hari, McWhorter and Morris were responsible for the bombing of a mosque in Bloomington, Minn., on Aug. 5, 2017, and the attempted bombing of the Women’s Health Practice in Champaign, Ill., on Nov. 7, 2017.
This morning, law enforcement agents executed search warrants at the home of Hari’s parents, in Paxton, Ill.. According to the affidavit, Hari often stays at his parents’ home because his home has no running water or electricity. A search warrant was also executed at a store / office owned by Hari, located at 100 S. Main Road in Clarence.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation; Springfield Division; FBI Minneapolis Division; University of Illinois Police Department; Ford County Sheriff’s Office; Champaign Police Department; Illinois State Police; and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are continuing the investigation.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jason M. Bohm and Eugene L. Miller are representing the government on behalf of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Urbana Division, Central District of Illinois, working in coordination with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Minnesota.
Members of the public are reminded that a complaint is merely an accusation; the defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty.