Roger Stockham, a 63-year-old Army veteran from California who was reportedly angry at the U.S. government, was arrested by police in Michigan and charged with allegedly threatening to blow up a Mosque in Dearborn.
Dearborn police allegedly found Stockham inside his vehicle outside the Islamic Center of America with a load of M-80s in his trunk and other explosives, the Detroit News reported.
Dawud Walid, executive director of the Michigan chapter of the Counsel on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), told the newspaper that police told him the suspect was drinking in a Detroit bar on Monday and threatened to do harm to a mosque in Dearborn. An employee at the bar followed the man outside and wrote down his license plate, which he reported to police, Walid told the newspaper.
The 63-year-old grandfather is charged with one count of a false report or threat of terrorism and one count of possession of bombs with unlawful intent, according to the newspaper.
“He’s very dangerous,” Dearborn Police Chief Ron Haddad told the Free Press. “We took his threat to be very serious.”
Haddad said the Stockham, now in jail on $500,000 bond, was previously known to law enforcement officials in other parts of the country and law enforcement believes he drove from California to Michigan because of the large Muslim population. Haddad said the explosives were high-end fireworks, and that the FBI had been notified.
“He’s had a long history of being angry with the United States government,” Haddad told the newspaper.
At the time the suspect was found outside the Islamic Center, the mosque was holding a funeral with up to 700 people inside, Haddad told the newspaper. The suspect didn’t appear to have known about the funeral, Haddad added.
On an apparent profile of Stockham on a social media website for the Veterans of Foreign Wars, he writes he was born in Pasadena,CA and raised in Palos Verdes at a little community called Portuguese Bend Club.
He describes himself as a “typical surfer, did a lot of snow and water skiing, sailing, go cart racing.” He says his dad was an architect and his mom was a decorator, and writes that he joined the army in December 1965. He went to helicopter flight school and got married at 19. He says he was deployed to Vietnam in March of 1968 where he “saw a lot of action, got a lot of air medals, but not much else.” He says he “gave the army seven years then spent a couple of years flying as a commercial bush pilot in Indonesia.” He writes that he has “two beautiful kids, one granddaughter.”
On a MySpace profile that appears to belong to Stockham, he writes that he’s happy with how much he’s lived. “Ready for it to be over, but have a policy I contend with often: So long as I am alive, I can’t play dead,” he apparently wrote.
He writes that he has “four ex-wives” and is “on meds and doing better than my history would predict.” He lists his heroes as Thomas Jefferson and “Tom Payne” [sic].
Stockham was arraigned on Wednesday, but news reports of his arrest did not emerge until Sunday. Worshippers at the Mosque were informed of the threat on Friday.
Imad Hamad of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee blamed the rise in anti-Muslim rhetoric in an interview with Fox’s Detriot station.
Late Update: Justin Elliot spoke with CAIR’s Walid, who said police told him they found Stockham with a concealed knife. He also said he had heard that Stockham praised Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh as a hero (though that could not be independently confirmed).
Late, Late Update: This isn’t Stockham’s first run in with the law. A commenter points out that in 1985, Stockham was charged with planting of a bomb at Reno Cannon International Airport, according to the Los Angeles Times. The newspaper wrote that Stockham, who was 38 at the time, “has a history of mental problems and criminal offenses.” A Bureau of Prisons record says Stockham was released from federal custody in 2005.