Man found guilty of teaching bomb making to person targeting authorities

Jul 12, 2023, 12:18 PM | Updated: 12:56 pm

RALEIGH, NC (AP) — A federal jury on Wednesday convicted a man charged with teaching someone how to make bombs meant to kill federal law enforcement officers.

Christopher Arthur, 39, faces a maximum 20 years in prison, according to federal prosecutors. He was also charged with illegal possession of weapons, including improvised explosives found on his farm in Mount Olive, North Carolina.

Arthur, an Army veteran who served two tours of duty in Iraq, is the owner of Tackleberry Solutions, a company with the goal of “teaching war time tactics to the everyday citizen.”

Arthur was arrested in January 2022 after he provided instructions on how to construct bombs to a confidential human source, referred to as “Buckshot” by federal prosecutors.

Buckshot initially contacted Arthur in May 2021 for help, claiming that agents from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives had confiscated some of his weapons. He told Arthur he wanted help preparing for the agents’ expected return to his house.

Prosecutors played snippets of recordings made by Buckshot in which Arthur instructs him on a home defense strategy he called the “spider web,” which included putting improvised explosives around the home to maim or kill.

“I’m going to show you something called the spider web,” Arthur is heard saying in the recordings, which were played in court. “It’s a freaking death box.”

Arthur’s attorney, Assistant Federal Public Defender Ed Gray, urged the jury to consider the context under which Arthur was giving this information to Buckshot. He said Arthur believed a war was coming and that the collapse of the federal government was imminent.

Gray said that all of Arthur’s wartime tactics and bomb-making manuals and videos were merely meant to empower individuals to better defend themselves and their homes.

“What you have is someone dealing with fear,” Gray said. “He’s talking about preparing for the future war … he’s not talking about today.”

Indeed, Arthur took the stand in his own defense to try and convince the jury that he had no issue with the current government. But in his videos he commonly referred to the tyrannical government, spoke openly of law enforcement and government as enemies and that things had only worsened with recent events.

After the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol “it was not uncommon in our area for FBI agents to show up asking about Jan. 6. I know one or two people who were questioned,” Arthur said. Still, Arthur claimed to have no beef with the federal government.

But the jury didn’t buy it, and took only about an hour to deliberate.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Barbara Kocher argued that Arthur knew exactly what he was doing, and that by teaching someone to make bombs to “defend” his home against federal agents’, all law enforcement are put in danger.

Kocher played videos where Arthur instructed citizens to create militias, and railed against a tyrannical government. Kocher argued the warnings were not meant for some future apocalypse, but were against the current federal government. Arthur urged his viewers and trainees to make an individual decision as to whether they were under such threats, and to take up arms in defense.

“His words,” Kocher said. “The individual gets to decide who the innocent are … including the federal government and local law enforcement.”

Arthur had been on the FBI’s radar since at least May 2020 when police found multiple tactical instruction manuals by Arthur in the home of a man who had just been killed in a shootout with officers in New York, federal authorities said. Court documents identified the man killed as Joshua Blessed, a truck driver from Harrisonburg, Virginia.

The FBI found three bombs in Blessed’s vehicle in Virginia and more at his home. Blessed’s cell phone records indicated that he trained with Arthur at his North Carolina home in March 2020. Text messages printed out in court documents showed that Blessed and Arthur considered themselves friends, “even brothers,” Arthur texted.

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Man found guilty of teaching bomb making to person targeting authorities