A suspect who made jailhouse claims of ties to al-Qaida is in custody but not yet charged after allegedly boasting of plans to blow up a Department of Social and Health Services building.
The 18-year-old suspect, Anthony Garver, also told fellow inmates at the Spokane County Jail that he intended to detonate a bomb at the upcoming Pig Out in the Park in Riverfront Park and set off a secondary device when police and firefighters arrived, authorities said Wednesday.
The case remains under investigation by the Inland Northwest Joint Terrorism Task Force, composed of FBI agents and officers from other agencies, said task force spokesman Norm Brown.
Three search warrants already have been served as part of the continuing investigation, and the U.S. attorney’s office is reviewing possible charges against Garver.
Evidence recovered so far includes two loaded ammunition clips for an AK-47 semiautomatic rifle and a laptop computer reportedly containing an al-Qaida training manual, Brown said.
Agents also recovered a GPS device, maps, a mask and other “survivalist-type” gear, but no bomb-making components or firearms, Brown said.
Garver is in custody at Eastern State Hospital undergoing a 90-day mental evaluation as part of an “involuntary commitment,” Brown said.
“He denied making terrorist threats,” Brown said of Garver, who was interviewed by task force agents.
But while in the Spokane County Jail earlier this month, Garver allegedly told other inmates that he planned to build a fertilizer and fuel oil bomb “just like Timothy McVeigh” and blow up the DSHS office at 1313 N. Maple, Brown said.
He also “bragged that he had an AK-47,” but such a weapon wasn’t located – only ammunition for that type of assault rifle, Brown said.
“We have not been able to tie him to any known terrorist organizations,” the task force spokesman said. “I would describe him as a ‘lone wolf.’ “
Upon his release from jail, Garver was voluntarily admitted for psychiatric treatment at Sacred Heart Medical Center before he was located and interviewed last week by task force agents. It wasn’t known when he was transferred to Eastern State Hospital.
It also wasn’t immediately known what local charges led to Garver’s arrest or when that occurred.
Despite his apparent history of mental illness, task force investigators took the threats seriously because Garver has traveled to Morocco, where he could have had contact with operatives of terrorist organizations, Brown said.
Garver’s parents, who live in the Spokane area, have been fully cooperative with investigators and consented to a search of their property in the foothills of Mount Spokane, Brown said.
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