Five members of a self-styled militia were denied bail Tuesday after a federal agent testified they planned a machine gun attack on Mexicans, but a judge approved bail for a sixth man.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Armstrong said he could not grant bail to the five because of the agent's testimony and the amount of weapons — including about 200 homemade hand grenades — that were seized in raids Friday in northeast Alabama.
"I'm going to be worried if I let these individuals go at this time," he said.
Adam Nesmith, an agent with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, testified that the five — Raymond Kirk Dillard, 46; Adam Lynn Cunningham, 41; Bonnell Hughes, 57; Randall Garrett Cole, 22; and James Ray McElroy, 20 — planned a machine-gun attack on Mexicans in Remlap, a town just north of Birmingham, and went there on a reconnaissance mission April 20. The agent provided no further details.
During the raids last week, agents recovered 130 homemade hand grenades, a grenade launcher, about 70 hand grenades rigged to be fired from a rifle, a machine gun, a short-barrel shotgun and 2,500 rounds of ammunition, authorities said.
Local and federal officials returned to the area Tuesday because authorities got information that explosives could be hidden in a cave, said Stanna Guice, spokeswoman for the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department. Officers on foot and horseback converged in a field and worked outward to search for a cache.
At the hearing, Nesmith said Dillard told an undercover agent that the group, which calls itself the Alabama Free Militia, viewed government agents as "the enemy" and had a standing order to open fire if anyone saw government agents approaching.
Already a fugitive
Armstrong said Dillard was denied bail because he was already a fugitive, having failed to report for probation on a weapons case.
The judge approved $10,000 bail for the sixth defendant, 30-year-old Michael Wayne Bobo, at a later hearing. Bobo, who is being kept in custody until at least Wednesday, was charged with being a drug user in possession of a firearm. The other five were charged with conspiring to make a firearm.
ATF agent Larry Alt testified that investigators who searched Bobo's home found two rooms loaded with guns and possible explosives components, including fireworks, ball bearings, primers, mouse traps, light bulbs and fertilizer. The man lived in two upstairs rooms in his parents' home in Trusville, Alt testified.
Bobby Bobo, the defendant's father, said he "knew about some of the things, and I was concerned." But he said he was less worried after a relative in the Army looked at the cache and said there was nothing illegal.
Testimony showed that agents had secretly recorded the younger Bobo meeting with Dillard and McElroy in April and talking about illegal immigrants, anti-government leanings and weapons. But there was no direct mention of Bobo being in the Free Militia, evidence showed.
Attorneys for the five did not directly address the charges during the hearing.
In questioning Nesmith, however, they did attempt to show that their clients were not directly linked to all of the weapons seized.
A lawyer for Dillard, Scott Boudreaux, has said the case had been overblown by authorities. He said his client began stockpiling items partly because of the scare of the Y2K computer glitch in 2000.