Mass shootings in Orlando and Las Vegas have put domestic terrorism in the national spotlight. Police and FBI are now investigating separate mass murder plots in Florida and two men are under arrest. One was planning an attack on Black Friday, the other was targeting public schools.
Specifically, Randall Drake, 24, is in custody after detectives find an arsenal of weapons and ammunition in his house. Law enforcement was investigating Drake on suspicion of child of pornography when they obtained a search warrant for his parents Dunedin, Florida home. Drake has been living there for several months.
After executing the warrant, police find that Drake has maps and aerial overviews of several Hillsborough County schools including Essrig Elementary and Ben Hill Middle School. In addition to the school maps, deputies found multiple weapons and thousands of rounds of ammunition.
The list of weapons includes the following:
- An AK-47 with a 60-round clip magazine
- A 308-caliber rifle
- A 50-caliber pistol
- A 12-gauge shotgun
- Numerous other handguns
- 15 knives
- A baseball bat with protruding nails
- A crossbow
- Brass knuckles
- A container of gunpowder
- Over 2,300 rounds of ammunition
- Three incendiary devices
- A homemade silencer
- Tactical Vests
Interestingly, detectives confiscated several handwritten journals, military instruction manuals, and computers. According to Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, they are also in possession of a “really troubling handwritten letter.” Drake is currenltly free on a $20,000 bond.
However, he is undergoing a mandatory mental health evaluation at a secure facility.
Black Friday Massacre
Significantly, FBI agents have 53-year old Vincente Solano in custody. Solano was planning to use explosives on Black Friday shopping day at the Dolphin Mall in Sweetwater, Florida. Moreover, law enforcement believes Solano was inspired by ISIS and wanted to “carry out a weapons of mass destruction attack.”
Consequently, acting alone, Solano communicates his plan to blow up the mall to a confidential informant working undercover. However, the informant reported the plot to the FBI-led Joint Terrorism Task Force. Additionally, authorities are saying that Solano made pro-Islamic State videos prior to planning the attack.
“I love that there is going to be a holy war,” he says in one video. “The United States is the most terrorist country of them all.” In the videos, Solano also references the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and Harlem Suarez. Suarez received life in prison for a failed plot to set off a bomb on a crowded Key West beach in 2015
Incidentally, a federal court judge appointed a public defender to represent Solano on Monday. He is facing one count of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction. Solano currently works as a house painter, does not own property, and has no criminal record in the state.
Suffice it to say, we are thankful to be sharing this news instead of something much worse.