MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A North Carolina man and self-described member of an anti-government extremist group who authorities say traveled to Minnesota during protests following the death of George Floyd pleaded guilty Wednesday to a terrorism charge.
Benjamin Ryan Teeter, 22, of Hampstead, North Carolina, pleaded guilty Wednesday to one count of conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization.
Prosecutors say Teeter and another man, Michael Robert Solomon, 30, built firearms suppressors that authorities believed the pair sold to Hamas. They also allegedly offered to fight as mercenaries for the group, authorities said.
According to the Star Tribune, Teeter said during his plea hearing that he believed the suppressors would be used by Hamas' military wing.
“I mean, why would someone buy suppressors if they weren’t going to deliver them to a militant wing?” he said.
Authorities said Solomon and Teeter are self-described members of the “Boogaloo Bois." U.S. Attorney Erica MacDonald said in a statement that Teeter's “extremist ideologies had moved into the realm of violent action.”
Teeter will be sentenced at a later date.
Floyd, a Black man who was handcuffed, died May 25 after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck as Floyd repeatedly said he couldn’t breathe. His death sparked protests in Minneapolis and beyond.
Authorities began investigating the Boogaloo Bois after learning that some members were discussing violence and were armed during the unrest in Minneapolis. Boogaloo supporters, who use the movement’s name as a slang term for a second civil war or collapse of civilization, frequently show up at protests armed with rifles and wearing Hawaiian shirts.
According to court documents, Solomon was seen openly carrying a firearm, and he and Teeter spoke about committing acts of violence against police, politicians and other targets. Teeter said he and Solomon planned to blow up a courthouse in northern Minnesota, then changed their target to a courthouse in the metro area.
Solomon and Teeter told an informant that the views of Hamas — a Palestinian Islamic political party — aligned with their own anti-government views and that they wanted to work as mercenaries on behalf of Hamas’ armed wing so they could earn cash for the Boogaloo movement, authorities said.