The FBI had been keeping tabs on a 23-year-old Michigan man for more than a month before arresting him last week on charges of possessing explosives that he planned to detonate at this week’s Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn., according to court documents released Wednesday.
Matthew Bradley DePalma, of Flint, Mich., was charged Aug. 30 with possession of an unregistered firearm, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison. He is scheduled to appear Friday in U.S. District Court in Minnesota at a preliminary hearing.
An FBI affidavit says Mr. DePalma first came to the bureau’s attention after he attended an anarchist event in July in Wisconsin called CrimethInc Convergence.
At the event, Mr. DePalma told another attendee, who happened to be an FBI informant, that he planned to “make some bombs” for the Republican convention in St. Paul.
The informant, who is not identified by name, ended up playing a large role in building the case against Mr. DePalma.
According to the affidavit, the informant told Mr. DePalma to contact him when he arrived in Minnesota and met multiple times with Mr. DePalma. Several of the meetings were recorded on audio- or videotape.
The FBI said Mr. DePalma met with the informant Aug. 15 in Minneapolis and told him that he wanted to set off bombs in tunnels near the Xcel Energy Center, the site of the convention, in order to cause power failures.
Mr. DePalma said that if he bombed the Xcel Energy Center the first day of the convention, “they might call it off.” According to the affidavit, he also suggested setting off bombs on the last day so the convention would “end with a bang.”
Authorities say Mr. DePalma described a plan to use napalm-filled Molotov cocktails against police officers in the streets.
“I will light one of those pigs on fire,” he said, according to the affidavit.
On Aug. 18, the informant went with Mr. DePalma to a public library where he spent an hour researching how to make Molotov cocktails and making a list of ingredients that he needed.
Molotov cocktails are crude explosives in which a flammable liquid is poured into a glass bottle.
The informant drove Mr. DePalma a few days later to various stores where he bought the makings for Molotov cocktails, including gasoline. The FBI said Mr. DePalma and the informant went to a remote area in Minnesota on Aug. 22 to test the Molotov cocktails. After igniting one, Mr. DePalma declared it was “a cut above the average Molotov, I think,” according to the affidavit.
Mr. DePalma gave three other Molotov cocktails to the informant Aug. 28 with the understanding that he would give them to others who also wanted to disrupt the convention, according to the affidavit.
Instead, the informant gave the Molotov cocktails to the FBI, which arrested Mr. DePalma two days later at the apartment where he had been staying.