A Napa auto shop owner on Friday pleaded guilty to allegedly storing a large number of illegal weapons and explosives while sending text messages of “going to war” after the siege on the United States Capitol.
Authorities charged the suspect, 44-year-old Ian Rogers, with 28 counts, including possessing five pipe bombs and up to eight illegal weapons. Officials raided Rogers’ British Auto Repair shop and discovered the firearms.
Additionally, Nazi-related material, a “white privilege” card, and manuals for making bombs were found in the suspect’s home earlier this month during the raid.
Investigators from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) suggested in a separate complaint that Rogers’ had potential ties to an extremist group called the “Three Percenters.” However, when questioned, the suspect said he was only a member of a small portion of the group that broke up with the main faction.
Authorities said they found several text messages from Rogers that hinted at plans of “going to war” in order to keep Donald Trump as the United States President. “I hope 45 goes to war. If he doesn’t, I will. Let’s see what happens; if nothing does, I’m going to war,” his messages read.
On Friday, Napa County Superior Court Judge Elia Ortiz said during Rogers’ hearing that the suspect targeted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, social media platform Facebook, and California State Governor Gavin Newsom. He was also considered to be a threat to the safety of the public, she said.
However, Jess Raphael, Rogers’ attorney, said his client was misguided by mischievous Trump supporters despite being a law-abiding citizen himself. “He does not belong to any of these groups; he is not of a violent disposition. But when he drinks, he spouts off,” Raphael said.
Raphael argued that the majority of weapons the authorities seized were legally owned by Rogers. He said that his client used the bombs for entertainment purposes, bringing them on camping trips and detonating them.
Rogers’ attorney requested the judge to lower his client’s bail to allow him to keep running his shop to support his family’s spending.
Additionally, Raphael said FBI investigators were already tipped off about the illegal weapons at Rogers’ shop by a discontent employee. However, he said authorities waited months before conducting the raid because there was no immediate threat.
“Why was he not dangerous back in October or in September? But now, he’s so dangerous that they have to keep him in custody on millions of dollars in bail? It doesn’t make sense,” Raphael argued, NBC Bay Area reported.
Prosecutors replied by saying that their investigation was hampered when Rogers sold his former home and moved to a different area in Napa. Judge Ortiz reduced the suspect’s bail from $5 million to $1.5 million during Friday’s hearing but ordered Rogers’ to surrender his passport, allow himself to be monitored electronically, and tested for alcohol.