Authorities say they suspect a man was planning an act of domestic terrorism after a search of his car during a Greenwood traffic stop revealed a rifle, ammunition and liquids that when mixed form a toxic and combustible gas.
Thirty-one-year-old Christopher C. Byrne was pulled over by a Greenwood police officer on Aug. 15. Byrne told police he was a “sovereign national” and refused to provide identification, according to a report. Police identified Byrne, determined that he’d recently pleaded guilty to a gun charge and a felony charge of being a habitual traffic offender, and arrested him.
Johnson County Deputy Prosecutor Rob Seet said the water bottles containing ammonia and bleach suggest Byrne might have been planning “something bad” and that the case is being investigated by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
Byrne was also found with police gear during recent and past traffic stops and has a history of telling the courts that he doesn’t acknowledge their jurisdiction.
During the August traffic stop in Greenwood, police found a gun and what appeared to be a homemade silencer in the vehicle.
Byrne told police he was a sovereign citizen, and he did not cooperate with officers. Police said he had a homemade plate on his vehicle and told them he was not required to have a license or insurance, according to the police report.
The Johnson County Prosecutor’s Office sent the information to federal officials, who could consider charges against Byrne, including possessing a handgun by a felon and possessing a homemade silencer, Prosecutor Brad Cooper said.
Officials have looked into Byrne’s background, including documents he has authored and filed in his past court cases describing how he is not required to follow laws, Cooper said. His social media activity also raises concerns, Cooper said.
Officials have concerns about Byrne being a threat to public safety, Cooper said.
The guidance from federal officials has been to report anything suspicious, and that is what local officials are doing, he said.
“We don’t want to be two years down the road and not report it and have something happen and someone gets hurt,” Cooper said.
Byrne was arrested Aug. 15 after the traffic stop near Greenwood Park Mall on a habitual traffic violator charge. That case is still pending.
Byrne is also set to be sentenced on a 2015 case from Johnson County, where he leaded guilty to charges of a felon carrying a handgun and being a habitual traffic offender. He is set to be sentenced in November, according to court records. During that arrest, police found handcuffs, a police baton and a gas mask, along with a gun and ammunition, in the vehicle.
He also faces a new charge of being a habitual traffic violator from the August traffic stop in Greenwood.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.