Authorities Probe Possible Bomb Plot

Associated Press/July 20, 2002

Smithfield, N.C. -- A man described as a Ku Klux Klan member was arrested Friday on federal firearms violations as authorities investigated a possible plot to blow up county offices and kill the sheriff.

Authorities found at least two bombs, "an arsenal of numerous weapons'' and bomb-making materials at two homes, Johnston County Sheriff Steve Bizzell said.

One of the homeowners, Charles Robert Barefoot Jr., 39, was arrested and in federal custody. Three people, including Barefoot's son, were held for questioning.

"Sources have revealed that Junior Barefoot was meeting with members of his group or organization, and there were threats that were communicated,'' Bizzell said.

He said the threats targeted himself, the courthouse, the sheriff's office inside the building and the jail. Additional security measures were taken because of the alleged threat.

Bizzell did not reveal what may have motivated the alleged plot.

There was evidence of a connection between the Klan and the alleged bomb plot, Bizzell said. A Klan robe was among the items seized at Barefoot's home in Benson.

Barefoot's wife, Renee, said her husband started his own Klan chapter a few months ago, but otherwise declined to comment on the charges Friday.

Daniel Leigh Barefoot, 18, Barefoot's son, was charged with burning an unoccupied building and burning personal property. He was held on $150,000 bond.

Bizzell said other arrests were pending.

Barefoot was expected to appear before a federal magistrate Friday.

A call to the magistrate's office was not answered late Friday, and the outcome of his hearing was not available.

In September, the town of Benson refused to allow a group called the Church of the National Knights to have a float in a parade for the 52nd annual Mule Days celebration. Town officials said they suspected the organization was associated with the Klan.

Smithfield is 30 miles southeast of Raleigh.

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