ST. CHARLES COUNTY — A St. Peters man has pleaded not guilty to charges that he assembled homemade grenades and other explosive materials in an effort to target protesters, the Black Lives Matter movement and others.
Cameron M. Swoboda, 25, of the first block of Suncrest Drive, was charged Monday with three felony counts of unlawful possession, transport, manufacture, repair or sale of an illegal weapon. He is jailed in St. Charles County on $50,000 bail after pleading not guilty Tuesday to the charges.
Police say officers and federal agents seized explosive materials and emptied-out shotgun shells from an apartment in O’Fallon, Missouri, as well as six altered grenades, a claymore-style mine created with a 3D printer and enhanced with BBs, and the makings of two pipe bombs found in a hiding spot along a rural road north of O’Fallon.
Friends of Swoboda told police they were concerned that he was planning a “large-scale attack” on protesters and expressed his dislike for Blacks, Hispanics, the Black Lives Matter movement and criminal justice reform, charges say. He also told friends he thought martial law might soon be imposed because of restrictions related to COVID-19 and that he might “go to war” with the military or police.
“The suspect told the friends that he would not hesitate to shoot or kill law enforcement,” police said in charging documents. “They described him as very extreme in his beliefs and how he was actively trying to get a belt-fed fully automatic weapon to use when martial law was imposed.”
Authorities found the materials June 22 at an apartment in the 200 block Casalon Parkway in O’Fallon, and at a hiding spot in the 1700 block of Dalbow Road in rural St. Charles County, charges say. The cache off Dalbow Road included six M67-style grenade bodies with small BBs glued to their inside walls.
“I do not know of any legitimate reason for these to be glued to the inside wall of these grenades unless the suspect was attempting to produce more fragmentation during a detonation to injure or kill more people,” St. Charles County Bomb Squad Detective Brian Reimer said in court records.
Charges say three friends of Swoboda told authorities they saw him with these items as well as more than 1,200 rounds of ammunition in “distinctive cases” in his bedroom on June 20.
Swoboda has a detention hearing set for July 9. His lawyer, Jason Korner, said Wednesday that “we look forward to finding out specific facts of the allegations and to a fair resolution to this case.”