A 48-year-old Ocala man faces federal charges after authorities say he sought to have small bombs placed in 10 Target stores along the East Coast from New York to Florida.
Mark Charles Barnett's motive, federal officials say, was to bring down the Target stock price, buy it cheap and make money.
But the person he recruited to plant the 10 bombs ended up telling federal agents all about it and turning over the 10 food boxes - for breakfast bars, stuffing and pasta - that contained the black powder bombs.
Barnett, a registered sex offender, was arrested by a team of local, state and federal officials - including members of the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the FBI; the Florida Department of Law Enforcement; Florida Probation & Parole and the Marion County Sheriff's Office - in a business parking lot on Tuesday and taken to the Marion County Jail.
He is being held there for violating his probation in a 1992 rape, kidnapping and theft case. According to state records, Barnett is on conditional release supervision until July 2023. While under supervision, he wears a GPS-enabled ankle monitor.
On Thursday, an ATF special agent filed a federal criminal complaint against Barnett for possession by a convicted felon of a firearm (in this case, bombs) affecting interstate or foreign commerce.
Barnett declined to talk to the Star-Banner.
According to ATF Special Agent Dewane L. Krueger, he received information that Barnett was recruiting someone to place bombs in 10 buildings.
Krueger and other ATF agents were told last month that Barnett wanted to recruit someone to deliver packages to multiple locations - including stores in Florida, New York and Virginia - and was willing to pay $10,000 for the job.
ATF officials said Barnett made statements about the stock market and that he had some investments and planned to make money from those investments. The plan was to detonate bombs in Target stores to make the stock tumble. Once the stock plunged, he would buy the stock at a lower price and then resell it at a profit.
Barnett made the 10 bombs in food boxes and placed them in a cardboard box. He told his recruit not to let them bounce around, as they might explode.
The criminal complaint describes the bombs as small food boxes containing a battery-powered power source connected via a switch to a 1- to 1 1/2-inch-wide aerial shell and model rocket motor igniter. The powder in the box had the chemical composition of "flash powder, black powder, and pyrotechnic stars."
An ATF expert said the bombs could cause property damage, and serious injury or death to people nearby.
Barnett provided his delivery person with gloves, a mask and a license plate cover to make it difficult for law enforcement officials, according to the criminal complaint. Barnett also gave the recruit $280 in travel money.
Barnett explained that the delivery person would need to remove a rubber band from the outside of the box to activate the triggering device inside.
On Monday, Barnett's recruit handed the bombs over to ATF and FDLE officials. They were examined and destroyed.
On Tuesday, Barnett was recorded saying he wanted the bombs to go as far north as possible because he did not want "to make it a localized thing." Barnett wanted the bombs to denote, saying "start at Syracuse and work your way back down (to Florida)," according to the criminal complaint. "Put one in each state, I guess."
Once the explosions would go off, Barnett said he was going to monitor the stock market.
Officials got a search warrant for Barnett's home and went there. They found explosives and battery sources like those in the bombs.
The officials then arrested him.
- Contact Austin L. Miller at 867-4118, email@example.com or @almillerosb.