Feds: Man taught bomb making to person targeting authorities

Published 4:36 pm Thursday, February 10, 2022

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By Ben Finley, Associated Press

A North Carolina man who runs a company that “teaches military tactics to the everyday citizen” has been charged with showing someone how to make a bomb that would kill people in federal law enforcement, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Monday, January 31, 2022.

The charges stem from a visit that an unnamed person made to Christopher Arthur’s home in May, during which Arthur offered instructions for making improvised explosive devices, federal authorities said in a news release.

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But Arthur had already been on the FBI’s radar since at least May 2020. That’s when police found multiple tactical instruction manuals — written by Arthur — in the home of a man who had just been killed in a shootout with officers in New York, federal authorities said.

That man who was killed was identified in court documents as Joshua Blessed. FBI agents in Virginia began investigating Blessed in 2018 based on information that he was recruiting for “a militia extremist group and preparing to engage in an apocalyptic battle” with the U.S. government, court records stated.

Blessed was a truck driver from Harrisonburg, Virginia who drove his empty tractor trailer north to pick up some dairy products, according to a 2020 article in The Democrat & Chronicle newspaper.

A traffic stop by local police in New York had likely triggered Blessed, Livingston County Sheriff Thomas Dougherty said. Blessed, 58, fired at least 29 rounds at officers, the newspaper reported.

The FBI later found three bombs in Blessed’s vehicle in Virginia and more at his home, along with firearms that included an AK-47, the Democrat & Chronicle reported.

Besides finding the tactical manuals that Arthur wrote, a review of Blessed’s cell phone indicated that he trained with Arthur at his North Carolina home in March 2020, the news release said. Text messages printed out in court documents showed that Blessed and Arthur considered themselves friends, “even brothers,” Arthur texted.

Arthur, 38, runs a company called “Tackleberry Solutions” in Mount Olive, about 70 miles (110 kilometers) southeast of Raleigh, federal officials said.

Following the shootout with Blessed in New York, the FBI “covertly requested a free PDF document” from Tackleberry in March of 2021, the news release said. A short time later, Arthur indicated in an email that he had to keep some information “off of the internet since explosives were such a touchy topic.”

In May, an unnamed person was at Arthur’s house, where Arthur “explained how to properly place IEDs through one’s property … and how to evade arrest after killing members of law enforcement,” federal authorities said.

Federal officials said Arthur provided his bomb-making instructions knowing that the person “intended to kill federal law enforcement who might come to his home.”

After Arthur was arrested, federal authorities said they found multiple bombs and bomb components at his house, along with a pistol suppressor and bulk gunpowder, the news release said.

“This type of behavior is criminal, it is unacceptable, and it will be prosecuted to the fullest extent,” Michael Easley, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, said in a statement.

Arthur faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison if convicted.

Damon Chetson, a Raleigh-based attorney listed for Arthur in court documents, declined to comment in an email to The Associated Press, writing that he doesn’t comment on pending cases.

The website for Arthur’s company lists a “Kit Arthur” as its founder and CEO. It says that Tackleberry Solutions “is an educational company that teaches military tactics to the everyday citizen for civil defense purposes.”

The website gives an example: “A mob of armed protesters surround your home and try to attack your family. The 911 system is overloaded, your phone is broken, your car isn’t working, one of your children is shot from a stray bullet and your wife is going into labor.”

Arthur cites his background as having 13 years as a “recon soldier” and three years in “law enforcement.”

A page offering in-person training near Mount Olive asks the question, “Are you ready for war?”

Associated Press writers Eric Tucker and Michael Kunzelman contributed to this article.