Roger Stockham is accused of loading his vehicle with explosives and planning to attack one of the nation’s largest mosques before law enforcement officers stopped him outside the facility as mourners gathered for a funeral, authorities say.
Dearborn, Michigan police acted on a tip and responded Monday night to the Islamic Center of America after an employee in a Detroit bar heard him make a threatening statement about the mosque. Police arrested Roger Stockham, 63, who was found with an undisclosed quantity of class-C fireworks including M-80s, which are outlawed in Michigan. Stockham allegedly drove from California and parked outside the Islamic Center of America with a vehicle trunk full of fireworks.
Stockham was charged with one count of a false report or threat of terrorism and one count of explosives/possession of bombs with unlawful intent.
Stockham has a criminal history and had served time in federal prison for threatening to kill George W. Bush and for threatening to bomb a Vermont veteran’s clinic. Stockham is also a decorated U.S. Army veteran who flew 600 helicopter combat mission in Vietnam.
Police notified mosque leader, Imam Hassan al-Qazwini, early Tuesday to let him know of the incident and arrest. Police later met with Qazwini and mosque board members, who expressed concerns about copycat crimes if the arrest was publicized. The mosque board members deliberated over releasing the information, and released the news Saturday night. Police released the news Sunday morning.
The Islamic Center of America is a 70,000 square-foot facility that can accommodate 1,000 people. When Stockham was arrested, about 500 members were attending a funeral service.
Dearborn, Michigan is located about 10 miles west of Detroit, and is the capital of Detroit’s Arab-American community — one of the largest in the U.S.