A Toledo man pleaded guilty to his role in a conspiracy to use explosives to kill and injure others.
Vincent Armstrong, 23, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to transport or receive an explosive with intent to kill, injure, or intimidate any individual, and maliciously damage or destroy by fire or explosive.
“This defendant has admitted to helping plot and plan a mass-casualty attack in Toledo,” U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman said. “His guilty plea today is an important step as we seek justice in this case, and the facts to which he admitted today reflect the serious nature of the charges against him and his co-conspirator.”
“Vincent Armstrong has accepted responsibility for the steps he took to put his unfathomable desire of committing mass murder into action,” FBI Special Agent in Charge Eric B. Smith said. “Law enforcement urges the public to report suspicious, concerning behavior – see something, say something.”
Toledo Police Chief George Kral said: “This week should show all Ohioans the threats that are ever present in our communities. With this plea, a dangerous potential mass murderer will be off our streets. Our citizens have to be a part of the solution. I strongly encourage people to report suspicious behavior to law enforcement. It quite honestly could be a matter of life or death.”
According to the plea agreement and other documents filed in the case:
Armstrong, from April 2018 through December 10, 2018, conspired with Elizabeth Lecron to use an explosive device to kill others and destroy property. Lecron’s case is pending and she has pleaded not guilty.
The two met in February 2018, started dating a few months later and moved in together at residence in Toledo. Shortly after meeting, Lecron expressed her interest in mass murderers in introduced Armstrong to the “True Crime Community” or TCC. Lecron allegedly engaged with members of the community via Tumblr, under the username “ligaturemarkings” and “charlestonchurchmiracle.” Armstrong joined the Tumblr TCC community with the username “societysheretic.”
Lecron routinely posted items about the Columbine High School shooters and the Charleston church shooter. Armstrong and Lecron privately discussed committing their own mass murder in the Toledo area. They referred to the attack as “D-Day” and discussed using guns and explosives. Armstrong owned an AK-47 while Lecron purchased a shotgun with Armstrong. Both guns were to be used in the attack and Lecron and Armstrong went to the shooting range to practice their firearm skills.
Armstrong printed instructions on how to make a pipe bomb from a website Lecron showed him. The two agreed to build a pipe bomb. Armstong purchased end caps from a local hardware store and they discussed the additional parts they needed to buy to build the pipe bomb.
The pair agreed what to wear during the attacks, looking to emulate the Columbine shooters. Armstrong purchased a trench coat and t-shirt that read “Society Failed Us.” Lecron purchased combat boots — that she felt would not slip on all the blood during the attack – and a t-shirt that read “False Prophet.”
They discussed numerous possible targets for the attack and settled on a bar in downtown Toledo.
Armstrong wrote about “D-Day” in his journal. In a journal entry dated June 8, 2018, he wrote: “I have a vision. A vision to kill. To hunt the unwilling. These peasants to society. The hatred of the human race is so bewildering. It feels so good to know I will end it all. Very soon. I am buying a knife this weekend to slay my prey. To shake up the world…I have also bought caps from the local hardware store for bombs – pipe bombs to be exact. Soon we will bring destruction on society.”
Armstrong and Lecron flew to Denver in August 2018 to visit sights related to the shooting at Columbine High School. Lecron posted that their next trip would be to Charleston to visit “the church.” They also developed a cover story and agreed to say their plan to commit mass murder was merely “role playing.”
Law enforcement agents executed search warrants on Armstrong and Lecron’s house and vehicles on December 10, 2018. The trunk of Armstrong’s vehicle contained a duffel bag with a tactical vest with two loaded magazines for an AK-47, two loaded magazines for a pistol, a white t-shirt that stated “Society Failed Us,” a black trench coat, a gas mask and printed instructions on how to construct various bombs. In the house, law enforcement found an AK-47, two shotguns, two handguns and ammunition.
Upon questioning, Armstrong stated all their planning was “role playing” but later admitted they genuinely planned on committing the attack.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, which is comprised of members of the FBI, Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Ohio State Highway Patrol and Toledo Police Department, investigated the case. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael Freeman and Tracey Tangeman