UPDATED with more details. Felon Arrested For Plotting To Blow Up Store And Gas Stations As Diversion For Bank Robberies. KMAS attended a small press conference with local law enforcement Tuesday to find out more details on the bombing that was thwarted by cooperation between multiple agencies.
The alleged plan by Larry Gillette, 53 of Shelton Washington was a scheme to plant powerful bombs at the Shelton Wal-Mart and two nearby gas stations (AM/PM station and the Chevron) on Wallace Kneeland Blvd. Gillette wanted to inflict "maximum loss of life," so he could divert emergency responders and rob three banks in the downtown area while the authorities were “busy”.
The operation began at 9:00 AM was over by 1:30 PM with the arrest of Gillette. The success of the operation was due to the work and cooperation between multiple law enforcement agencies: Seattle Safe Streets Task Force, FBI agents, Seattle police officers, Mason County Sheriff's Office, Shelton Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. A total of 50 officers were employed in the operation.
The operation started with the Seattle Police Department notifying Shelton Police Department (Lieutenant Les Watson), who then notified the Mason County Sheriff’s Office about the operation. Seattle Police Department was in command with their take down plan in place, complete with mock bomb materials loaded into a van, and four inoperable Glock firearms. The Shelton Police and Mason County Sheriff’s Office offered the “local” information to be covered to round out the operation and protect their community should the operation not go as planned. There were two nearby schools with outdoor sports and the bombing was aimed at busy shopping time at local shopping centers. There were potential escape routes for Gillette, one being the marsh behind Wal-Mart, a level of detail our local law enforcement agencies brought to aid in the take down.
The take down went as planned by the FBI and without incident; a large part of the success was due to the limited amount of information let out prior to the take down. Chief Eklund and Sheriff Salisbury said the Seattle Police Department had a well-planned operation, each of the police agencies understood and completed their part of the mission, regardless of the assignment, allowing the operation to go smoothly. Lieutenant Les Watson and Under Sheriff Jim Barrett covered the schools to ensure officers were in position if the situation got out of control. Watson noted due to limited local staff, administrative personnel must cover wherever and whenever needed, “there’s no one else”.
The unsettling part as noted by Sheriff Salisbury, Under Sheriff Barrett and Chief Deputy Spurling; This incident could have been a disaster in our own back yard. There were over 50 law enforcement personnel from four different agencies today on this incident. How would our local law enforcement handle an incident of the magnitude had Gillette been successful in his plot?
Under Sheriff Barrett said it best, “At the end of the day, it was a good day”. Both Sheriff Casey Salisbury and Chief Deputy Ryan Spurling said their reaction to this incident was “very personal” and disturbing that something like this can and will actually happen in Mason County. “Our family and friends are coming and going from the businesses, banks and schools.”
People in attendance at the press conference:
Chief of Shelton Police Dave Ekund
Lieutenant Les Watson
Sheriff Casey Salisbury
Under Sheriff Jim Barrett
Chief Deputy Ryan Spurling
April 29, 2014, 5PM/JE KMAS News
Original Press Release from the United States Attorney's Office for the Western District of Washington
Defendant Allegedly Described Deadly Plot to Undercover Officer. A recently released prison inmate was arrested yesterday for plotting to blow up a large store and gas station as part of his bank robbery scheme, announced U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan. LARRY GILLETTE, 53, of Shelton, Washington, is charged with solicitation to commit a crime of violence and being a felon in possession of a firearm. GILLETTE allegedly began plotting the bombings and bank robberies while still serving a state prison sentence for identity theft. After being released from prison on April 14, 2014, GILLETTE described his plot in detail to someone he thought would assist him with his crimes. In fact the person he met with was an undercover officer working for the FBI’s Safe Streets Task Force. GILLETTE will appear in U.S. District Court in Tacoma at 2:30 today.
According to the criminal complaint, law enforcement learned that GILLETTE told others in prison of his plan to rob banks in Shelton using bombs at various businesses as a diversion during which he would commit violent takeover style robberies. Following his release from prison, an undercover officer posed as someone who could assist GILLETTE in obtaining weapons and explosives for his plot. On two different occasions in April 2014, GILLETTE was recorded on audio and video describing his plot to the undercover officer as they drove around Shelton. As described in court documents, the plot involved powerful bombs at Walmart, and Arco and Chevron gas stations. The plot allegedly anticipated that while first responders were busy with the bombings, GILLETTE would rob three banks. GILLETTE indicated he wanted the maximum loss of life to occur in the bombings and the bank robberies. At one point in the investigation, GILLETTE took possession of four Glock firearms. GILLETTE did not know the firearms had been modified so they would not fire. GILLETTE was arrested yesterday afternoon when he met again with the undercover officer, and attempted to ignite a car bomb. The “bomb” was inoperable.
Solicitation to commit a crime of violence is punishable by up to twenty years of imprisonment. Being a felon in possession of a firearm is punishable by up to ten years of imprisonment.
The charges contained in the complaint are only allegations. A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
The case is being investigated by the Seattle Safe Streets Task Force -- which includes special agents from the FBI and task force officers from the Seattle Police Department (SPD) -- and the SPD Major Crimes Task Force. SPD SWAT, the Mason County Sheriff’s Office, and Shelton Police Department, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF) partnered with the task forces on the arrest and the serving of search warrants.
April 29, 2014, 11:00 AM