Police in New York Tuesday announced the arrest of four suspects in an alleged terror plot. They described the plan to attack a group of Muslims in central New York state as serious and real.
Brian Colaneri, 20; Vincent Vetromile, 19; Andrew Crysel, 18; and a 16-year-old suspect whose name is being withheld, were arrested Friday in the town Greece.
"If they had carried out this plot, which every indication is that they were going to, people would've died," said Chief Patrick Phelan.
Investigators said the suspects, who knew each other from the Boy Scouts, were targeting Islamberg, a rural community that's home to several hundred Muslims and the headquarters for The Muslims of America organization.
According to court papers, the suspects had built three improvised explosive devices "in the shape of a mason jar wrapped in duct tape." Investigators said they had access to 23 rifles and shotguns.
"We found firearms in almost every location that we searched and once again the bombs were all in one location. That was the home of the 16-year-old," Phelan said.
The bombs are being sent to FBI labs in Quantico, Virginia, for analysis where investigators will try to determine if the devices were viable.
Islamberg was the target of another planned attack in 2015 when, a former congressional candidate from Tennessee, was arrested. He was eventually sentenced to 20 years in prison for plotting to burn down a mosque, a school and a cafeteria in the community.
In this case, the tip that led to the arrests came from a local school. Investigators have not ruled out the possibility that there could be more arrests and that the suspects could face federal charges.
Police said the 16-year-old suspect was showing suspicious pictures on his phone and another student passed along the information. Police began the investigation, and quickly made the arrests.