OCALA, Fla. – A 48-year-old Ocala man was arrested on allegations of trying to plant bombs in Target stores along the East Coast, with hopes of capitalizing by purchasing cheap shares of the retail store's stock, according to a report from WKMG.
Mark Charles Barnett, a registered sex offender in the state of Florida, was arrested on charges of possession of a firearm (destructive device) affecting commerce by a previously convicted felon. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison.
Barnett is currently in custody at the Marion County Jail on state charges for violating his terms of probation.
According to an affidavit supporting the criminal complaint that was released Thursday, Barnett offered a confidential source $10,000 to place improvised explosives in Target stores.
Barnett created at least 10 of the explosive devices, disguised in food-item packaging, which he delivered to the confidential source last Thursday, the affidavit said. Barnett asked the source to place the explosive devices on store shelves from New York to Florida, officials said. He also provided a bag of gloves, a mask and a license plate cover to disguise the source's identity from law enforcement, the affidavit said.
The source, who was previously convicted on felony burglary charges and is on probation, surrendered the explosives to authorities, officials said.
The source, who was not promised anything in return for his cooperation in the investigation, told his probation officer that Barnett wanted him to "place bombs in 10 buildings."
An explosives expert determined that the devices were capable of causing property damage, serious injury or death to nearby persons upon detonation.
According to authorities, Barnett theorized that Target's stock value would plunge after the explosions, allowing him to cheaply acquire shares of stock before an eventual rebound in prices.
A search of Barnett’s house by federal agents revealed components consistent with those used to create the explosive devices, the affidavit stated.
“The swift work of Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives special agents, explosives enforcement officers, and other specialized violent crime resources foiled this individual’s plot that could have caused great harm to the public. Our federal and state law enforcement partners played a vital role in supporting this investigation, and ATF will continue to work alongside the U.S. Attorney’s Office to bring this case to a successful resolution,” said Special Agent in Charge Daryl McCrary, ATF Tampa Field Division.
Barnett is currently on probation for several felony charge, including kidnapping, multiple counts of sexual battery with a weapon or force and grand theft.