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SC man who planned Dylann Roof-style attack gets 33 months in prison

FLORENCE, SC (WBTW) - The Conway man who illegally purchased a gun to ignite an attack "in the spirit of Dylann Roof" will spend nearly three years in jail.

Benjamin Thomas McDowell was sentenced in federal court Wednesday morning to 33 months in prison and three years of supervised release.

McDowell pleaded guilty to the charge of felon in possession of a firearm in February and faced a maximum prison term of 10 years, $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release. McDowell received his 33-month sentencing in a Florence courtroom. 

McDowell was arrested Feb. 15, 2017 by the FBI after he "indicated he sought a way to conduct an attack on non-whites without getting caught," and bought a gun illegally from an undercover FBI agent, according to court documents.

FBI agents characterize McDowell as a white supremacist who illegally bought a gun he planned to use in an attack against "non-whites" similar to the Charleston church shooting.

Court documents state that McDowell told an undercover agent he wanted to buy a gun for an attack in "the spirit of Dylann Roof."

McDowell's mother, Joann Clewis said her son thought the Charleston church shooter was "brave."

"He just said that that boy (referring to Roof) was brave, and he made headlines as a white boy, but he said he (Roof) was wrong to go in the church and shoot up like he did, and he said, he (Roof) stood up for the white people," said Clewis of her son's admiration for the Charleston church shooter.

Clewis said she had no idea her son was planning any type of attack, and was shocked when FBI agents pounded on her door that February morning.

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