A man from Illinois that according to friends and relatives recently developed anti-Catholic views was arrested and charged by Oklahoma police over plotting to bomb dozens of churches.
Gregory Arthur Weiler II, a 23-year-old resident of Elk Grove Village, Ill., was arrested by police in Miami, Okla., on Thursday and charged under the Oklahoma Antiterrorism Act.
According to police, authorities found Weiler in a motel room which contained 50 Molotov cocktails and a hand-drawn map of 48 churches. They were tipped off by some maintenance workers who found some makings of Molotov cocktails in a trash bin.
Oklahoma's strict Anti-Terrorism Act was passed in 1995 after the Oklahoma City Bombing that resulted in 168 people being killed.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, family members of Weiler said that he was a fun, energetic young man who struggled with mental illness. Some of his family speculated that his involvement with "an extremist Christian church" prompted his desire to destroy churches.
For a time, Weiler was involved in The Church of Liberty of Liberty, Mo. In an interview with the Associated Press, Pastor Doug Perry explained that his congregation tried to reach out to the troubled Weiler.
"We really, really tried hard to love Greg and put up with his sort of sullen detachment … We poured a whole lot of love, a whole lot of time, a whole lot of prayer into trying to help him. I grieve because I really do love the kid," said Perry.
Perry told AP that while his church opposes denominational differences, they do not nor have ever advocated violence to spread their views.
Some of the family also believes that Weiler did not act alone, with Weiler's aunt and legal guardian stating, "I don't think any of us think he could do this on his own without the help of somebody else. How did he do the travel, pay the hotels and buy the material?"
Miami Police Chief George Haralson, however, said in a press statement that officials are working under the assumption that he was acting alone.
"To be able to firebomb 48 churches in a week, that's an awful lot of effort … But we're confident that he was acting alone," said Haralson.
Online court documents indicate that Weiler has already applied for a court-appointed attorney and will be due in court on Monday, Oct. 22.
At present, no one is sure why Weiler decided to travel to Miami, Okla., and plot to bomb several churches.