Southern California terror plot: Mark Steven Domingo arrested in planned attack on Santa Monica Pier, Long Beach rally

ABC7 Los Angeles

DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A Reseda man was arrested for planning a terrorist strike on the Santa Monica Pier and a White supremacist rally in Southern California, federal officials announced Monday.

Mark Steven Domingo, 26, was taken into custody Friday on domestic terrorism charges. Domingo, who officials say is an Army vet with combat experience in Afghanistan from 2012 to 2013, allegedly plotted to detonate an improvised explosive device, or IED, "for the purpose of causing mass casualties."

Representatives from the U.S. attorney's office, the FBI and the Los Angeles Police Department outlined Domingo's "chilling" terrorism plot during a news conference.

"This is a case in which law enforcement was able to identify a man consumed with hate and bent on mass murder and stop him before he could carry out his attack," officials said of Domingo, who they described as a radicalized Muslim.

Officials said since early March, Domingo "planned and took steps to manufacture and use a weapon of mass destruction in order to commit mass murder."

During the months-long investigation, law enforcement investigated online posts and conversations in which Domingo expressed "support for violent Jihad and an aspiration to conduct an attack in the Los Angeles area." As part of the plot, Domingo allegedly purchased several hundred nails to be used as shrapnel inside the IED.

"Domingo said he specifically bought three-inch nails because they would be long enough to penetrate the human body and puncture internal organs," U.S. Attorney Nicola Hanna said.

Three rifles and ammunition were seized during a search of Domingo's home and vehicle, authorities said.

Officials said Domingo planned to target several groups.

"At times, Mr. Domingo said he wanted to kill Jews as they walked to synagogue. At other times, he said he wanted to kill and target police officers, attack a military facility or attack crowds at the Santa Monica Pier," Hanna said.

People learning of the plot at Santa Monica Pier were not just shocked, but saddened.

"It really is scary," said Santa Monica resident Faneal Godbold. "I mean, anywhere you go now, you have to be conscientious, aware. You're constantly looking at people around you."

Hanna added Domingo discussed attacking a neighbor, which he said "could serve as a prelude to a much larger attack."

According to a criminal complaint filed by federal prosecutors, Domingo posted a video online in which he professed his Muslim faith on March 2, and the next day, he made another posting in which he said, "America needs another vegas event" - referring to the 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas - that would give "them a taste of the terror they gladly spread all over the world." Following an attack on two mosques that killed 50 worshipers in New Zealand on March 13, Domingo posted, "there must be retribution."

Domingo allegedly plotted to set off the IED at a rally at Long Beach's Bluff Park in opposition of a suspected White nationalist group that was expected to have an event in the area on Sunday.

The United Patriot National Front had an event planned that it said was in support of freedom and free speech.

The Facebook page for that event has since been deleted. But community members still gathered at the usually quiet and peaceful park in opposition, saying they are against White nationalism.

"I feel like it's a way of getting together to share what I think we have in common, which is a desire to preserve the community we have, the openness, the welcoming community that we have," said rally attendee Kaney Fedovskiy.

A report earlier this year from the Southern Poverty Law Center linked UPNF to a known violent White nationalist who attended the infamous rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. The group has previously denied being a White nationalist or supremacist group.

Domingo, who has been in federal custody since his arrest, was expected to make his initial appearance in court Monday afternoon.

If convicted, Domingo could serve a 15-year federal prison sentence.

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