WICHITA, Kan. -- Three men accused of plotting to attack Somali immigrants in western Kansas appeared in court Monday, where they were appointed lawyers and ordered to remain in custody for the time being.
Magistrate Judge Gwynne Birzer set detention hearings for Patrick Eugene Stein and Gavin Wayne Wright for Friday and for Curtis Wayne Allen next Monday.
The trio was charged in a criminal complaint unsealed Friday with conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction. Their attorneys declined to comment after the brief hearing in Wichita.
Prosecutors say the men are members of a small militia group that calls itself “the Crusaders” and whose members espouse sovereign citizen, anti-government, anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant extremist beliefs.
They allege that the men planned to detonate truck bombs around a small Garden City apartment complex where about 120 Somali immigrants live and that they had discussed attacking area churches that helped settle the refugees and get them jobs.
Allen’s brother told CBS affiliate KWCH that he was shocked by the accusations.
“It’s really unbelievable that you know someone that could be accused of being involved in something like this,” Kevin Allen told the station.
Kevin Allen told KWCH that his brother went into the military, served in Iraq and later joined the National Guard.
“He went over and served in Iraq, and then when he came back, it was a little different,” he said, adding that his brother suffered from PTSD.
Garden City is home to a Tyson Foods cattle slaughterhouse that employs many immigrants, including many of the Somalis who settled there. On Saturday, law enforcement officials met with hundreds of these immigrants in Garden City to try to reassure them of their safety, including Somalis, Malaysians and Burmese, among others.
Police Chief Michael Utz told them that the defendants wanted to attack their religious beliefs, the Wichita Eagle reported.
“Some of you have said you can’t go to your mosque to pray, or that you can’t go to your homes because you are afraid,” Utz said. “But we and the sheriff and the FBI are here to say that you are safe in Garden City, and safe in the United States of America.”