Two men arrested Friday on gun charges are suspected of trying to acquire pipe bombs to use during protests in Ferguson, Mo., federal law enforcement officials said Friday.
The men, who have ties to the New Black Panther Party, were trying to obtain guns and explosives when police placed them under surveillance, NBC News reported.
“We wanted to see where this might go,” one official said, the network reported.
Court documents say the two men, Brandon Orlando Baldwin and Olajuwon Davis, were arrested after they made false statements when trying to purchase firearms.
One police source told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that police raided the two residences and found evidence that both men planned to do harm to law enforcement and the public.
Another federal official assured that the two men did not appear to pose a serious threat and that there was no evidence that they were involved in a larger operation, according to NBC.
The New Black Panther reacted to the news on social media by calling the charges a “bold faced lie” and a “frame up.”
Local and federal authorities are bracing for protests in Ferguson, following a grand jury’s upcoming decision on the indictment of Darren Wilson, a white police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown, age 18, during an altercation in August. Mr. Brown was unarmed at the time.