RALEIGH – A federal jury convicted a Mount Olive man on nine counts, including teaching another individual how to make and use an explosive knowing that the individual intended to use that instruction in the murder or attempted murder of federal law enforcement.
The jury also found Christopher Arthur, age 39, guilty of receiving and possessing unregistered devices including a short-barreled rifle, a silencer, three improvised hand grenades, and an improvised claymore. Finally, the jury found Arthur guilty of possessing a silencer with an obliterated serial number. U.S. District Court Judge James C. Dever, III, presided over the three-day trial.
According to court documents, the investigation into Christopher Arthur began following events on May 27, 2020. On that date, in New York, after a two-hour police pursuit, another individual was shot and killed during an exchange of gunfire.
Search warrants related to that event resulted in the location of numerous additional Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and firearms along with multiple “Tackleberry Solutions” tactical instructional manuals which named the author as Christopher Arthur. A review of the individual’s cell phone indicated that he had attended training with Arthur in Mount Olive for multiple days in March of 2020.
On March 19, 2021, a confidential source working with the FBI requested a free PDF document from Tackleberry Solutions. After a short period of time, an email was received from Arthur indicating that he had to keep parts of the information in the PDF off of the internet since explosives were such a touchy topic. Arthur also gave his phone number and mailing address. Arthur then began communicating via phone regarding the manuals and additional training at a cost.
On May 5, 2021, the confidential source attended training on explosives at Arthur’s Mount Olive home. During discussions between the confidential source and Arthur, the source specifically informed Arthur that he needed such training because the ATF had visited his home and he expected them to return.
Arthur introduced the individual to a concept Arthur called “the spiderweb” and which he described as a “freaking deathbox.” Over the course of a two and a half hour training, Arthur walked the individual through how to create IED’s and how to place them to create “fatal funnels” which could be used to maim or murder anyone entering their home.
During that instruction, Arthur also showed the individual how to create an electric initiator for homemade grenades and bombs and how to make a homemade trip wire. Once he was finished demonstrating how to make the components, Arthur provided them to the confidential source and also explained how to use an old shotgun to create a “thumper” that could launch homemade grenades.
Subsequent to Arthur’s arrest, a search warrant was executed at his home. During the search, officers found an IED sitting on the front porch that was wired for a 9-volt battery powered switch located within the home. After rendering that item safe, a further search of the home uncovered three IED grenades in Arthur’s bedroom co-located with a striker plate intended to assist in detonating the IEDs. Also in Arthur’s bedroom was a rifle chambered with 5.56 rounds and having an attached suppressor or silencer. An examination of the rifle revealed that it was an illegally altered short barrel rifle. The suppressor lacked a visible serial number.
Also located on the property was an IED made out of an old ammo can with a target on it, which contained 1 pound of a high explosive. None of the IEDs or firearms were registered with the National Firearm Registry and Transfer Record as required by law.
In the training materials provided by Arthur to the source, in both PDF and video format Arthur explained his belief for why such training was needed. For example, “When those [law enforcement officers] are trying to kick in your door, there’s no more peaceful negotiations. The time is over. That’s the time for you to start putting lead down range….that’s when you pick up that phone…to your fellow militia members and you say ‘I need help!’ And that’s when y’all man the freak up, get out there and put boots up their ass, lead down range, and bodies on the ground!”
When sentenced later this year, Arthur faces up to 95 years, including a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 for providing the explosives training knowing how it was going to be used, 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each of the seven counts relating to possessing unregistered devices, and 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the possession of a firearm with an obliterated serial number.
Michael Easley, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina made the announcement after the jury returned the guilty verdict. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is investigating this case and Assistant United States Attorneys Barbara Kocher and Logan Liles are prosecuting the case.