KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Two East Tennessee men planned to attack the FBI Knoxville Office and kill law enforcement officers who were involved in the investigation into the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, a federal criminal complaint unsealed Friday alleges.
Edward Kelley, 33, of Maryville, and Austin Carter, 26, of Knoxville, have been charged with conspiracy, retaliating against a federal official, interstate communication of a threat and solicitation to commit a crime of violence. Both have been detained.
In May, Kelley was arrested and charged with assaulting a law enforcement officer during the breach of the Capitol on January 6, 2021. Investigators said he was the fourth person to enter the capitol that day.
The U.S. Department of Justice said Kelley obtained a list of law enforcement personnel who participated in that criminal investigation and the two discussed plans to kill individuals on the list in conversations with a cooperating witness. Those plans included an attack on the FBI’s Knoxville Field Office.
“Federal law enforcement agents put their lives on the line every day to protect the public,” said United States Attorney Francis M. Hamilton III. “Planning and threatening violence against them is among the most serious of crimes. It is absolutely unacceptable and will be vigorously investigated and prosecuted,” said United States Attorney Francis M. Hamilton III.
The case is being investigated by the FBI. Two assistant U.S. attorneys and two attorneys from the Counterterrorism Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division are prosecuting the case.
“The FBI continually assesses the full spectrum of potential threats that come to our attention and that includes those whose intent is to harm bureau employees. The arrests were a result of an amazing team effort across the division along with our local, state, and federal partners. The partnership with the FBI Counterterrorism Division, the Department of Justice’s Counterterrorism Section, and the U.S. Attorney’s Offices in the Eastern District of Tennessee and the District of Columbia were instrumental in the success of the operation. We remind the public to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity regardless of the intended target,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Joseph E. Carrico.
A preliminary hearing in the case has been scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 3.