A U.S. Army veteran was arrested Friday after authorities discovered he was allegedly plotting to bomb one of several locations in Southern California including Long Beach, the Santa Monica Pier, Huntington Beach and Los Angeles freeways as revenge for last month’s mass shooting at a New Zealand mosque.
Authorities had been monitoring Mark Steven Domingo, a 26-year-old San Fernando Valley resident, because he had allegedly posted online about gathering materials to build a bomb and planning to carry out attacks on Christians, Jews and police officers as retribution for the Christchurch shooting, according to a Department of Justice press release. He decided to detonate a bomb at a white nationalist rally scheduled to take place in Long Beach this past weekend.
Domingo, who returned from a deployment in Afghanistan in 2013, also considered another rally in Huntington Beach, Santa Monica Pier and Los Angeles freeways as back-up targets, according to court documents.
“Domingo said the Huntington Beach rally would be on the beach, which make it more difficult to kill as many people because it was a wide open space,” the court documents said. “Domingo said the Santa Monica Pier would provide a better space for an attack, particularly during the summer when it was crowded, because it was a more enclosed space and people would not be able to escape from a blast. Domingo said that detonating an IED with a timer on the Santa Monica Pier would cause a lot of casualties.”
During one meeting with investigators, Domingo said he would bring a gun to the pier in the event of an attack and was willing to martyr himself.
“Domingo showed the (undercover operative) a map of the Santa Monica Pier on his phone, and pointed out locations where they could stand near the entrance of the pier,” the court documents said.
Domingo decided to proceed with his plan to bomb the Long Beach rally last week. He asked an undercover FBI operative to find a bomb-maker and purchased several hundred nails to be used as shrapnel inside the bomb. On Friday evening, the operative delivered multiple inert devices, which Domingo believed were weapons of mass destruction, according to the press release. Domingo inspected the devices and traveled to the location of the rally in Long Beach, where he was taken into custody.
The white nationalist rally did not materialize Sunday morning because counterprotesters occupied Bluff Park, where it was supposed to take place.
Domingo was charged with providing and attempting to provide material support to terrorists. He is expected to make his initial appearance this afternoon in United States District Court.
“The individual charged in this case wanted to carry out a mass casualty attack with explosive devices, and he moved very quickly from talking about violence to mobilizing to commit such an attack,” said assistant director Michael McGarrity of the FBI’s counterterrorism section. “This case should remind the public of the need to be vigilant and notify law enforcement if you see suspicious behavior.”
At a press conference Monday, investigators said Domingo came on their radar shortly before the Christchurch shooting. He expressed support for violent jihad and ISIS in different chatrooms, said Ryan Young, the FBI’s special agent in charge of the investigation. Young said authorities discovered several semi-automatic guns, large amounts of ammunition and multiple large fireworks at Domingo’s Reseda home.
“Our biggest fear is this, which is what we call a rapid radicalization and mobilization of violence,” Young said. “People ask us what keeps us up at night. This is a case that keeps us up at night.”
This article was updated Apr. 29 at 1:36 p.m.