Feds: Man Planned to Start Race War With Mass Shooting

Mark Prieto allegedly planned to target rap concert in Atlanta
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 17, 2024 6:55 PM CDT
Feds: Man Planned to Start Race War With Mass Shooting
This photo from the indictment shows Prieto at a gun show in Phoenix in February.   (US Department of Justice)

An Arizona man planned to carry out a mass shooting at a rap concert to ignite a race war, federal prosecutors say—but two men he believed shared his racist beliefs were really FBI informants. Mark Adams Prieto, 58, was indicted last week on charges including one count of transfer of a firearm for use in a hate crime, the New York Times reports. According to court documents, he planned to target a concert at Atlanta's State Farm Arena on May 14 or 15. Puerto Rican rapper Bad Bunny was scheduled to play the venue on those dates. Prieto was arrested on May 14 while driving east through New Mexico.

FBI Special Agent Ryan Harp said Prieto "wanted it clear that the attack was racially motivated," the Washington Post reports. He allegedly told the two men that they should leave Confederate flags at the scene of the shooting and shout slogans like "Black lives don't matter, white lives matter" and "KKK all the way." He "emphasized that the most important thing was a high body count," a criminal complaint states. According to prosecutors, Prieto told an informant that he was thinking about pushing back the attack date but was going to Atlanta in early May for reconnaissance. He allegedly also discussed attacking a mosque later in the summer.

Prieto allegedly said the attack had to happen before the November election, CNN reports. According to court documents, the FBI was tipped off about Prieto in October by a man who encountered him at gun shows and said he was "advocating for a mass shooting, and specifically targeting 'Blacks, Jews or Muslims,'" the Times reports. The man later become an FBI informant. Starting in January, Prieto began discussing attack plans with the informant and an undercover FBI agent, prosecutors said. Prieto allegedly sold the FBI agent an AR-15-style rifle and gave him instructions on using it, the Post reports. (More domestic terrorism stories.)

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