Federal officials said that they arrested a South Carolina man this week after he bought a handgun from an undercover agent and told the agent that he wanted to commit an attack inspired by Dylann S. Roof, the avowed white supremacist who killed nine black churchgoers in June 2015.
The suspect, Benjamin T. S. McDowell, was arrested Wednesday in Myrtle Beach, S.C., and charged with unlawful possession of a firearm. He is in federal custody pending a detention hearing next week.
In an affidavit, Grant Lowe, a special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, described Mr. McDowell as a felon who, according to the police in Horry County, had developed ties to white supremacist groups.
The document says that in recent weeks, Mr. McDowell wrote on Facebook about what appeared to be his frustration with white supremacists for not taking more actions like those of Mr. Roof, who was convicted in the attack in Charleston, S.C., and sentenced last month to death.
In December, the affidavit said, Mr. McDowell sent the message, âI love love to act what u think,â and included a link to the website for Temple Emanu-El, a conservative synagogue in Myrtle Beach. (A person who answered the phone at the synagogue declined to comment.) It was not clear whom Mr. McDowell was communicating with.
In January, Mr. McDowell suggested on Facebook that Mr. Roof had done what âtattoos wearingâ individuals â presumably a reference to white supremacists â are âsupposed to be doing,â the document said. âIf you ainât got the heart to fight for Yahweh like dylann roof did you need toâ be quiet, wrote Mr. McDowell, who also has tattoos.
The affidavit said Mr. McDowell wrote on Facebook Messenger that he was looking for an âiron,â which can mean a gun, and about a week later he met an undercover agent. In their conversations, the affidavit said, Mr. McDowell âindicated he sought a way to conduct an attack on nonwhites without getting caughtâ and said he wanted to do something on a large scale and write on a building, âIn the spirit of Dylann Roof.â
The affidavit said Mr. McDowell wanted to buy a .40-caliber Glock handgun and hollow-point ammunition. The undercover agent arranged to meet with Mr. McDowell, who agreed to pay $109 for the gun and ammunition. He was arrested soon afterward.
A court filing said a public defender had been appointed to represent Mr. McDowell, but messages left with the offices of the federal public defender in Columbia, S.C., and Florence, S.C., were not returned. A spokesman for the F.B.I.âs field office in South Carolina referred questions to the United States attorneyâs office, which declined to comment.
Joann Clewis, who picked up the phone at the residence in Conway, S.C., identified as the house of Mr. McDowellâs motherâs in the affidavit, said she was Mr. McDowellâs mother.
âI knew he had a real bad anger problem, but I had never thought that it had got this far because he stayed to his self and he didnât talk a whole lot,â Ms. Clewis said.
Ms. Clewis said her son was 29, did not work and did not like crowds. She declined to say why he had previously been jailed. She said he had called her after he was arrested on Wednesday.
âHe said, âMomma, I should have listened to my family,ââ Ms. Clewis said. âHe said, âMomma, Iâve been with the wrong crowd.ââ