OCALA, Fla. — The FBI said an Ocala man whom they have spent two years monitoring scouted out a downtown Ocala location to use for a potential sniper attack.
Jonathan Beese was on the FBI's radar after his mother said she found Islamic State group references in his bedroom.
Officials said Beese sought to acquire guns, and when he couldn't afford them, he stole them.
Investigators said Beese researched terrorist attacks and went to the top of the Ocala National Bank building to scout it out as a possible sniper's nest.
Court documents said that while Beese was there, he took pictures and sent a Facebook message to his girlfriend.
"I found a good spot up here for a sniper's nest," Beese said in the message, according to documents. "Could lock everything from the Square to 14th and another few blocks down."
Beese was arrested in 2017 after investigators said he and his girlfriend, Kristen Sparks, broke into the trunk of her father's car and stole guns, including an AK-47.
When Beese's mother discovered Islam-related items here in their 45th Avenue home, she reported it to deputies.
Investigators said she discovered a copy of the Quran, prayer beads and a Muslim robe.
Beese's mother also discovered writings on his computer referring to ISIS and indications that he was researching travel to Sudan," documents said.
The FBI said it searched through the suspect's computer and discovered Beese had read articles and searched for items related to Islamic extremism and lone-wolf terrorism.
Officials said the suspect was still under surveillance when he stole the weapons.
The FBI said it also watched the suspect take the stolen AK-47 to a shooting range for target practice.
Beese later sent his girlfriend a text message bragging about his accuracy, records said.
"I can still shoot two shots a second and hit something the size of your upper chest at 100 yards or 1 a second and something the size of your head," he wrote in the text message, documents said.
Cox Media Group