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updated: 10/10/2012 8:35 AM

Motel workers foil local man's church bomb plot?

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  • This undated photo provided by the Ottawa County (Okla.) Sheriff Department shows Gregory Arthur Weiler II. Prosecutors have filed charges against the Illinois man accused of plotting to bomb nearly 50 Oklahoma churches. Weiler has been charged under the state's anti-terrorism act.

      This undated photo provided by the Ottawa County (Okla.) Sheriff Department shows Gregory Arthur Weiler II. Prosecutors have filed charges against the Illinois man accused of plotting to bomb nearly 50 Oklahoma churches. Weiler has been charged under the state's anti-terrorism act.
    Associated Press

  • Ralph Smith, a maintenance worker at the Legacy Inn & Suites, stands in front of the trash bin where he found discarded bomb-making materials on Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012, in Miami, Okla. Smith reported the find to authorities last week, and they later arrested Gregory Arthur Weiler II for possession of an explosive device.

      Ralph Smith, a maintenance worker at the Legacy Inn & Suites, stands in front of the trash bin where he found discarded bomb-making materials on Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012, in Miami, Okla. Smith reported the find to authorities last week, and they later arrested Gregory Arthur Weiler II for possession of an explosive device.
    Associated Press

  • Ralph Smith, a maintenance worker at Legacy Inn & Suites, shows where he found discarded bomb-making materials last week in a trash bin outside the motel on Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012, in Miami, Okla. Smith reported his find to authorities, who arrested a motel guest for possessing an explosive device.

      Ralph Smith, a maintenance worker at Legacy Inn & Suites, shows where he found discarded bomb-making materials last week in a trash bin outside the motel on Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012, in Miami, Okla. Smith reported his find to authorities, who arrested a motel guest for possessing an explosive device.
    Associated PRess

  • This June 2007 family photo provided by the Weiler/Meyers family shows, Greg Weiler at his high school graduation from Elk Grove High School, in Elk Grove Village, Ill. Wieler who has a a long history of mental illness has been charged with plotting to attack dozens of churches in Oklahoma with homemade Molotov cocktails. Weiler's parents both committed suicide, and Weiler has battled drug addiction and ža lot of mental illnesses that led to a suicide attempt in the eighth grade, said his cousin Johnny Meyers. Meyers' parents served as legal guardians for Weiler after the death of his parents. He said family members in suburban Chicago believe Weiler must have stopped taking his medication and planned to go to Oklahoma to see him.

      This June 2007 family photo provided by the Weiler/Meyers family shows, Greg Weiler at his high school graduation from Elk Grove High School, in Elk Grove Village, Ill. Wieler who has a a long history of mental illness has been charged with plotting to attack dozens of churches in Oklahoma with homemade Molotov cocktails. Weiler's parents both committed suicide, and Weiler has battled drug addiction and ža lot of mental illnesses that led to a suicide attempt in the eighth grade, said his cousin Johnny Meyers. Meyers' parents served as legal guardians for Weiler after the death of his parents. He said family members in suburban Chicago believe Weiler must have stopped taking his medication and planned to go to Oklahoma to see him.
    Associated Press

 
Associated Press

MIAMI, Okla. -- A bright green duffel bag caught maintenance worker Ralph Smith's eye as he emptied trash in a bin at motel just off a major interstate in northeast Oklahoma.

Curious, he unzipped it. Inside were a pile of brown bottles with cloth wicks attached by duct tape. Then he noticed an empty gas can in the bin, and a co-worker remembered seeing a motel guest with it two days earlier.

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They quickly reported their observations to police, leading to the arrest of a 23-year-old former Elk Grove Village man who authorities say planned to attack dozens of churches with Molotov cocktails. Gregory Arthur Weiler II, 23, has been charged with threatening to use an explosive or incendiary device and violating the Oklahoma Antiterrorism Act.

"I don't feel like I'm a hero or anything like that," Smith told The Associated Press on Tuesday. "We were doing it because we want the public to know people can stay here and this is not a bad place."

Maintenance worker Steve Ballenger said he saw Weiler with the gas can two days earlier and Weiler explained that he had run out of gas in his car.

After Smith discovered the gas can and bag in the trash bin on Thursday, the two pretended to be cleaning and went into Weiler's room where they say they found more duct tape, nylon and other items.

Motel owner Ishver Patel said he considers it "lucky" they discovered the duffel bag.

"He might have blown up here and innocent people get hurt," Patel said.

Police said in an affidavit that along with bomb-making materials, they found pieces of paper in Weiler's room that when assembled, contained directions for making Molotov cocktails, a list of 48 local churches and an outline of a plan to plant bombs at the churches.

Weiler, who is being held without bail, has applied for a court-appointed attorney.

His cousin, Johnny Meyers, has said that Weiler has struggled with mental illness but is fine when he takes his medication. Meyers said relatives believe Weiler may have stopped taking his medication before his arrest.

Ministers and others at churches in Miami said they were surprised by the arrest and didn't know why the plot focused on their town.

"The only thing I can think of is this is the Bible belt," said Carrol Thompson, the secretary at First Baptist Church, referring to the region's reputation for having many churches.

Others expressed sympathy for Weiler, who was raised by Meyers' family after his parents committed suicide.

"Whatever bad experience he had, we don't look at him any different than anybody who needs Jesus in their lives," said the Rev. Raymond Frizzelle, of First Assembly of God, which sits across the road from the motel.

At nearby First Christian Church, associated minister Gary Reed said his first reaction was disbelief, followed by compassion for Weiler.

"We pray for him and our heart goes out to somebody that's feeling very disenfranchised and has a lot of anger and resentment toward the church and our faith tells us we have to have compassion," Reed said.

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