ROBERTA, Ga., - Two leaders of a small militia group were arrested
Friday and 10 bombs were confiscated in raids on their homes after
an informer said they planned to build and distribute pipe bombs.
Early reports said the bombs were to be set off during the Summer
Olympics in Atlanta, but a top federal law-enforcement official
said there was no indication of any connection to the Olympics.
The Georgia Republic Militia group, which law officials said has
11 to 15 members, apparently wanted to hold the bombs at their
homes in case of government invasion, according to a federal affidavit.
Robert Edward Starr III and William James McCarnie Jr., both of
Roberta, were charged with conspiracy to possess unregistered
Starr was arrested at his home, and McCarnie was arrested in Americus,
where he was working Friday. Both were held at a county jail
pending a hearing Monday, Justice Department spokesman Carl Stern
In Macon, agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms
displayed 10 pipe bombs they said were found in the raid. Nine
of them were made from 1-inch-diameter metal pipe with caps screwed
onto each end. The 10th was about 3 ½ feet long
and 4 inches in diameter. It was wrapped in mud-stained plastic
and apparently had been buried, agents said.
The agents also showed explosive powder, pre-cut pipe and other
bomb-making materials they said were recovered in the raid.
Roberta is 74 miles south of Atlanta, where most of the Olympic
games are to be held.
Stern said the government is making "No allegation that they
intended to explode any devices at the Olympics."
"The Olympics only came up once during the investigation
when at one of their meetings, one member said if a bomb goes
off at the Olympics, they would get blamed for it," he said.
CBS, which broke the story, was standing by its report that federal
agents had uncovered a plot by a militia group to set off bombs
at Olympic sites prior to the games.
Several sources initially confirmed an Olympic connection to the
AP, but a top-ranking law-enforcement official subsequently denied
"Whether the Games were the target or not, it's better to
have something connected with a bombing plot to be found out beforehand,"
said Scott Mall, a spokesman for the Atlanta Committee for the
McCarnie, 30, is a plumber who works in Macon. Starr, 34, is
a self-employed electrician whose company filed for bankruptcy
in June 1995, according to court records.
McCarnie's mother, Sherry McCranie, said, "We don't have
any idea what's going on. We believe it's a terrible misunderstanding."
Starr and McCranie live about five miles apart in Roberta, a central
Georgia town of 980.
A sign on Starr's driveway advertises fresh eggs for sale, while
two signs on a gate blocking the driveway to McCranie's trailer
warn "Beware of Dog" and "Trespassers will be Shot."
Neighbor Georgine Fesperman said she's seen a pickup full of men
with shaved heads carrying rifles and dressed in camouflage drive
onto the McCranie property.
An informer told agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and
Firearms on April 5 that he had attended a meeting with McCranie,
Starr and others in which McCranie talked about blowing up a bomb
on his property and said he had enough chemicals to make 40 bombs,
according the affidavit.
McCranie said he already had pipe bombs on his property.
The informer said he went to a meeting on McCranie's property
last Saturday and saw pre-mixed explosives, fuses, igniters, chemicals
and end caps. ON Tuesday, he quoted Starr as saying he wanted
to fully arm the pipe bombs today.
"Starr said that whoever wanted one could have it, but they
were to bury them in their back yards. On other occasions, Starr
had said that the pipe bombs would be to defend their rights against
invasion of the government," the affidavit stated.