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Tag: Pittsburgh

‘Nazi-Obsessed’ Man Sentenced to 32 Years in Prison on Firearms, Ammunition Charges

Dennis Alan Riggs’ Nazi memorabilia. Photo via Suffolk County Police Department.

By Steve Neavling

A Pittsburgh man who the FBI said is “obsessed” with Nazis was sentenced to 32 months in federal prison for being a convicted felon in possession of firearms and ammunition.

Dennis Alan Riggs, 51, pleaded guilty in May after the terrorism task force raided his home in January and found it riddled with Nazi memorabilia, the FBI said in a news release.

He was in possession of seven firearms and more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition, including an AR-15. 

The search of his home and cell phone uncovered his “obsession with Nazi ideology,” the FBI said. On his cell phone were photos and videos of him posing with an illegal AR-15 while wearing a Swastika shirt. One video shows him performing the Nazi “Heil Hitler salute” with the AR-15, which U.S. District Court Judge Robert J. Colville said “exceeds the bounds of mere political expression.”

The FBI led the investigation.

Pittsburgh Man Charged with Shooting ATF Agent During Raid of His Home

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A Pittsburgh man accused of shooting an ATF agent during a raid at his home in June has been charged with assault on a federal employee and violating federal firearms laws.

Dion Williams, 44, was indicted by a federal grand jury after authorities say he shot the agent during a raid following a wiretap investigation into cocaine trafficking, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a news release Wednesday.

The agent was taken to a hospital in stable condition.

“My office has zero tolerance for assaults upon or violence directed against law enforcement officers. Violent drug trafficking felons like Dion Williams who brazenly use illegal firearms to shoot at law enforcement officers have no place in western Pennsylvania,” U.S. Attorney Scott W. Brady said. “We will continue to use all available resources to dismantle drug gangs and bring violent criminals to justice, and to protect the men and women of law enforcement who work tirelessly every day to keep us all safe.”

Williams and 11 others have been arrested and charged with possession and conspiracy to distribute cocaine. The investigation is connected to a larger drug-trafficking probe involving the “11 Hunnit” street gang, Brady said.

“It’s essential that we keep law enforcement officers safe as they protect and serve the nation’s communities,” Pittsburgh Special Agent in Charge Michael Christman said. “Assault on law enforcement officers undermines the rule of law and will not be tolerated. Anyone who fires at law enforcement threatens the safety of our community and will face serious legal consequences. I am thankful the injured ATF agent is recovering and appreciative of his service and dedication.”

Man Charged with Planting Explosives Next to Downtown Pittsburgh Building

Matthew Michanowicz

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A 52-year-old man has been charged on allegations he planted explosives next to a building in downtown Pittsburgh.

ATF agents and local police searched the home of Matthew Michanowicz, who has been charged with possessing weapons of mass destruction and possession of explosive or incendiary materials or devices.

Authorities say the man was caught on surveillance footage getting off his bike and planting a backpack next to PNC Plaza.

On Monday, authorities investigated a report of a suspicious package and found multiple explosives inside.

Police say Michanowicz admitted he was downtown but denied planing the backpack. Photos and videos show otherwise, authorities said.

Car with Strange Warning about Russia Was Abandoned in Front of Pittsburgh’s FBI Office

FBI office in Pittsburgh, via FBI.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

FBI agents in Pittsburgh were in for a surprise last week when someone abandoned a car tagged with a strange message at an entrance gate to the bureau’s office on the city’s south side.

Along the side of the car was a stencil-painted message: “RUSSIA PLANTS MICRORADIO DEVICES IN PPLS EARS & CONTROLS THEM USING A SOUND SIMILAR TO A DOG WHISTLE. SUBLIMINAL HYPNOSIS.”

A bomb squad checked the car for explosives Thursday morning, and agents worked with Pittsburgh’s local police to investigate, KIRO-7 reported.

By Friday, the person who parked the car outside the East Carson Street office was found.

“He voluntarily turned himself in to the FBI this morning and appears to be suffering from an unknown mental illness,” an FBI spokesperson said in a statement.

DOJ: FBI Foils Syrian Refugee’s Plot to Bomb a Church in Pittsburgh

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The FBI foiled a Syrian refugee’s plot to attack a Christian church in Pittsburgh next month, the Justice Department announced Wednesday.

Mustafa Mousab Alowemer, 21, a Pittsburgh resident, was charged with one count of attempting to provide material support and resources to ISIS and two counts of distributing information relating to an explosive, destructive device or weapon of mass destruction.

Alowemer is accused of planning to bomb a church in Pittsburgh in the name of ISIS using a “weapon of mass destruction”

The Justice Department said Alowemer was motivated to attack the church to “take revenge for our (ISIS) brothers in Nigeria.

“Our top priority is protecting the citizens of western Pennsylvania,” U.S. Attorney Scott W. Brady said. “Every day investigators and prosecutors work tirelessly behind the scenes to disrupt terrorist activity and keep our community safe. While the public does not always see the results of the hard work of these dedicated men and women, this case is a visible demonstration of our commitment to rooting out terrorists and bringing them to justice.”

Born in Syria, Alowemer was permitted into the U.S. as a refugee in August 2016.

Combating Opioids And Reemergence of Cocaine, Heroin Is Priority for New Head of FBI’s Pittsburgh Office

Bob Jones, new head of the Pittsburgh Field Office

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

The opioid crisis and the revival of cocaine and meth in Pennsylvania and West Virginia is the focus of the new head of the FBI’s Pittsburgh office.

Bob Jones, who recently took over the office, said law enforcement has made a dent in the sale of heroin and prescription painkillers, but the crisis if far from over.

“We’ve been knocking opioids down a little bit, but people are turning to other drugs,” he told the Tribune Review.

Jones also is concerned about the troubling reemergence of cocaine and meth and said the opioid epidemic “is still killing people.”

A native of the Pittsburgh area and graduate of Penn State University, Jones said he has “been trying to come back for the last 32 years.”

Pittsburgh Orders Police to Prepare for Riot If Trump Fires Mueller

Pittsburgh police

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

The Pittsburgh Police Department has ordered its officers to bring riot gear to work over fears that President Trump will soon fire special counsel Robert Mueller, sparking civil unrest.

Pittsburgh police sent an email to officers on Wednesday, warning that the department has “received information of a potential large protest in the Central Business District” and police should prepare for a riot “until further notice,” according to an internal email first obtained by WTAE-TV, the ABC station in Pittsburgh. 

“We have received information of a potential large scale protest in the Central Business District,” read the internal email from Victor Joseph, commander of major crimes.

“There is a belief that President Trump will soon move to fire Special Prosecutor Mueller,” the email continued. “This would result in a large protest within 24 hours of the firing. The protest would be semi-spontaneous and more than likely happen on short notice.”

He added, “We may be needed to assist in the event that there is a large scale protest.”

Trump has ramped up his criticism of Mueller, who is investigating the president and his campaign, prompting fears that he could soon fire the special counsel.

On Wednesday, Trump wouldn’t confirm reports that he planned to soon fire Mueller, but said his administration has been transparent and cooperative with the probe.

Ohio Man Indicted After Ramming Truck Through Gate at FBI’s Pittsburgh Office

Thomas Ross

Thomas Ross

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Ohio man who rammed a dump truck through a security gate at the FBI’s Pittsburgh field office over the summer was indicted by a grand jury Tuesday.

Thomas Ross is charged with willfully injuring or committing degradation again property of the U.S., the Associated Press reports. 

The Ohio man damaged property but fortunately didn’t injure anyone.

Ross claimed he had a bomb in the truck, but police didn’t find one.