Elk Grove man arrested for plot to bomb Oklahoma churches
BY HUNTER CLAUSS Staff Reporter email@example.com October 6, 2012 7:48PM
Gregory Weiler in an image from his Facebook page.
Updated: November 8, 2012 12:23PM
In a bizarre, rambling Facebook post late last month, Gregory Weiler II wrote about religion, free speech and a number of other topics.
“I am telling you that I have not opened a Bible in a while, and I haven’t stepped foot into a church building in quite some time,” he notes at the end.
But on Thursday, the Elk Grove Village resident allegedly was planning to head to a number of churches — and firebomb them. He was arrested in Miami, Okla., after he was allegedly found with 50 Molotov cocktails, enough to wipe out every church in the tiny town.
He also allegedly had directions on how to get to the churches and notes on how many people were likely to be at the churches, which included houses of worship of many religions.
Weiler, 23, was charged with two terrorism counts and is being held without bail in the Ottawa County jail, according to Miami Police Chief George Haralson.
Authorities were tipped off to Weiler’s alleged plans thanks to a maintenance worker at a Miami motel, Haralson said.
Haralson credited the worker for helping police foil what could have been a “disastrous” situation for his small town.
“Every church we have in town, Weiler planned on blowing up every single one,” Haralson said. “We could have potentially had a major incident on our hands.”
On Thursday, the worker discovered a green duffel bag and a five-gallon fuel container in a Dumpster at the Legacy Inn and Suites motel at 11:12 a.m., authorities said.
The worker called police, who discovered that the bag contained 50 brown glass bottles with cloth attached to each by duct tape, according to police and a criminal affidavit filed in Ottawa County District Court.
Police then began making background checks on all 18 people who were staying at the motel, Haralson said, adding that state law requires motels to keep copies of every customer’s ID. Weiler showed an Illinois driver’s license when he reserved a room, Haralson said.
As police launched their investigation, the maintenance worker started making routine checks on vacant rooms at the motel, Haralson said. About 3:21 p.m., the worker accidently walked into room 127, where Weiler was staying, authorities said.
Inside the room, the worker allegedly saw Weiler with beer bottles, another gas container, lighter fluid and bed sheets that matched the ones found earlier by police in the motel’s Dumpster, Haralson said.
The worker apologized, left the room and notified officers, who took Weiler into custody and obtained a search warrant for the room, Haralson said.
Investigators found a “recipe for making Molotov cocktails, a list of 48 local area churches, a hand-drawn map of the listed 48 churches grouped and circled with a key detailing how many nights and how many people, and a written outline of his intent to plant bombs,” the affidavit said.
Weiler, whose Facebook page said he went to high school in Elk Grove and college at Bradley University in Peoria, allegedly confessed to police, Haralson said.
Haralson said investigators believe Weiler acted alone and that churchgoers should feel safe on Sunday.
However, officials did not provide a motive and could not say why Weiler allegedly targeted Miami.
Justin Gibson, who worships at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Miami, said he was shocked to find out his church could have been burned down.
“It’s sad for him to consider burning any churches in Miami,” said Gibson, a middle school teacher. “All of the churches are important. It’s the Midwest. It’s the Bible Belt.”
At the home in Elk Grove where Weiler lived with relatives, Weiler’s cousin, John Meyers, declined to comment.
“We are not making any further statements,” he said.
But his sister, Jillian Weiler, told NBC-Channel 5 news “We are really sad this happened.”
Contributing: Maudlyne Ihejirika