Man Charged With Possessing Molotov Cocktails to Use at GOP Convention
by Jim Kouri, CPP
(The following report is based on material obtained by the National Association of Chiefs of Police.)
A 23-year-old Michigan man was charged last week in federal court for illegally possessing Molotov cocktails, which he allegedly intended to use at the Republican National Convention.
Matthew Bradley DePalma, Flint, Mich., was charged Aug. 30 with one count of possession of firearms that were not registered to him in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record. DePalma made his initial appearance yesterday, and his complaint was unsealed today. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for 1 p.m. Friday in Minneapolis.
According to the criminal complaint, DePalma knowingly and intentionally possessed Molotov cocktails from Aug. 22 through Aug. 28.
"The FBI, in close cooperation with our law enforcement and government partners, is working diligently to identify, investigate and respond to threats directed at the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area during the Republican National Convention," said Ralph S. Boelter, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI's Minneapolis Office. "Any criminal activities aimed at disrupting the convention or acts to harm persons or properties in violation of federal law will be thoroughly investigated and prosecuted, as appropriate."
DePalma was arrested without incident Aug. 30 at approximately 6:15 a.m. by agents of the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force at a residence in south Minneapolis.
According to an FBI affidavit, DePalma became known to the FBI in July 2008, when DePalma attended the CrimeThinc Convergence near Waldo, Wisc. During this event, DePalma allegedly stated his intention to travel to Minnesota to attend the RNC, and also expressed his desire to "make some bombs" and "blow up" things during the RNC.
The affidavit states that DePalma discussed with an FBI source his desire to make Molotov cocktails, describing in detail the use of ingredients that would make the flammable liquid more viscous so that it would stick to a target and burn longer and hotter than an ordinary gasoline-based Molotov cocktail.
The affidavit states that DePalma went to the Hennepin County Library on Aug. 18 and spent 90 minutes researching recipes for explosive devices. DePalma produced a handwritten list of items he would need to construct "special" Molotov cocktails that would stick to people and other targets.
DePalma's conversations, recorded on Aug. 20, described a plan to place a bomb near the Xcel Center during the RNC in an effort to disrupt the convention. The plan involved entering the tunnels near the center and using either Molotov cocktails or a chemical bomb to destroy electrical cables and cause a power outage. DePalma, the affidavit states, also described a related plan to use napalm-filled Molotov cocktails on the streets against police officers stating, "I will light one of those pigs on fire."
The affidavit states that DePalma obtained supplies for making Molotov cocktails on Aug. 21-22.
On Aug. 22, DePalma allegedly manufactured two jugs of a homemade napalm-like substance for use in Molotov cocktails. He created a flammable gelatin, and described to another the proper technique for throwing a Molotov cocktail to obtain the best explosion. DePalma continued to discuss his desire to make a bomb for use at the Xcel Center on either the convention's first day (Sept. 1) or last day (Sept. 4).
According to the affidavit, DePalma stated that if he could bomb the center on Sept. 1 they might call off the convention. He added that a "power outage would say a lot" and that it was his "main purpose." DePalma also said that he would like to bomb the Xcel Energy Center on Sept. 4 so that the convention would "end with a bang."
DePalma was observed traveling to a remote location in Rosemount for the purpose of assembling and testing Molotov cocktails. On Aug. 25, DePalma went to a remote location in Roseville for the purpose of experimenting with chemicals for a chemical bomb.
The affidavit states that DePalma manufactured three additional Molotov cocktails in a Minneapolis apartment on Aug. 28, where he was arrested. The affidavit states that DePalma possessed a total of five Molotov cocktails between Aug. 22-28, which were not registered to him in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record, as required by law.
If convicted, DePalma faces a potential maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment. All sentences are determined by a federal district court judge. This case is the result of an investigation by the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force, which includes the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and is being prosecuted by Assistant US Attorney W. Anders Folk.
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police. He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for a number of organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. He writes for many police and crime magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer, Campus Law Enforcement Journal, and others. He's appeared as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc. His book Assume The Position is available at Amazon.Com, Booksamillion.com, and can be ordered at local bookstores. Kouri holds a bachelor of science in criminal justice and master of arts in public administration and he's a board certified protection professional.