Ohio: Maple Heights man accused of planning Fourth of July terrorist attack in downtown Cleveland

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FBI Special Agent in Charge Stephen Anthony speaks at a news conference Monday announcing the arrest of a Maple Heights man accused of plotting a terrorist attack in downtown Cleveland.(Evan MacDonald, cleveland.com)

Source: Cleveland.com

CLEVELAND, Ohio — A Maple Heights man plotted to set of a bomb at the Fourth of July fireworks celebration in downtown Cleveland in an attempt to “strike at the values at the very core of our nation,” authorities said.

Demetrius N. Pitts, 48, expressed a desire to join al Qada and kill U.S. citizens as he told the undercover agent of his plot to conduct a July 4 attack on Voinovich Park, where the fireworks are set off each year, authorities said Monday during a news conference announcing Pitts’ arrest.

“Just last week, this defendant was walking around downtown Cleveland conducting reconnaissance on what he believed would thought was a large-scale attack,” U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio Justin Herdman said. “He looked for a place to park a van full of explosives.”

Pitts is charged with one count of attempting to provide material support to al Qaeda, a designated foreign terrorist organization, authorities said during a news conference at the FBI office in downtown Cleveland.

The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force arrested Pitts on Sunday afternoon. He will appear later Monday in federal court, Herdman said.

Pitts faces a maximum of 20 years in federal prison if he is convicted, Herdman said.