The ATF says it has broken up a plot to assassinate Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama and shoot or decapitate 88 black people in a Tennessee murder spree.
In court records unsealed Monday, agents said they disrupted plans to rob a gun store and target an unnamed but predominantly African-American high school by two neo-Nazi skinheads.
Daniel Cowart, 20, of Bells, Tenn., and Paul Schlesselman, 18, of West Helena, Ark., were charged Friday with making threats against a presidential candidate, illegal possession of a sawed-off shotgun and conspiracy to rob a gun store, according to MSNBC.
The men also sought to go on a national killing spree, with Obama as its final target, Jim Cavanaugh, special agent in charge of the Nashville field office for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Cavanaugh told The Associated Press.
"They said that would be their last, final act — that they would attempt to kill Sen. Obama," Cavanaugh said. "They didn't believe they would be able to do it, but that they would get killed trying."
Cavanaugh said the two men planned to kill 88 black people –– 14 of those by decapitation. The numbers 14 and 88 are symbolic in skinhead culture, referring to a 14-word phrase attributed to an imprisoned white supremacist: "We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children," and to the eighth letter of the alphabet, H. Two "8''s or "H''s stand for "Heil Hitler."
The two men were arrested in Crockett County, Tenn. The MSNBC report said the plot unraveled when one of the men was arrested on other charges and in the course of interviews he revealed plans for the plot.
Court records say Cowart and Schlesselman also bought nylon rope and ski masks to use in a robbery or home invasion to fund their spree, during which they allegedly planned to go from state to state and kill people.
For the Obama plot, the legal documents show, Cowart and Schlesselman "planned to drive their vehicle as fast as they could toward Obama shooting at him from the windows."
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"Both individuals stated they would dress in all white tuxedos and wear top hats during the assassination attempt," the court complaint states. "Both individuals further stated they knew they would and were willing to die during this attempt."
Law enforcement sources told NBC that both suspects have a history of mental illness
An Obama spokeswoman traveling with the senator in Pennsylvania had no immediate comment.
Attorney Joe Byrd, who has been hired to represent Cowart, did not immediately return a call seeking comment Monday.
The investigation is continuing, and more charges are possible, Cavanaugh said.