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The Morning Brew: FBI foiled Oklahoma man's alleged plot to blow up bank building with fake bomb

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FBI foiled Oklahoma man's alleged plot to blow up bank building with fake bomb

The Oklahoman's Brianna Bailey reports:

The BancFirst building located at 101 N. Broadway in downtown Oklahoma City, Okla. on Monday, Aug. 14, 2017. Jerry Drake Varnell, 23, of Sayre, was arrested Saturday in connection with what authorities says is a foiled plot to blow up the bank building in Downtown Oklahoma City with a truck filled with fake explosives. Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman
The BancFirst building located at 101 N. Broadway in downtown Oklahoma City, Okla. on Monday, Aug. 14, 2017. Jerry Drake Varnell, 23, of Sayre, was arrested Saturday in connection with what authorities says is a foiled plot to blow up the bank building in Downtown Oklahoma City with a truck filled with fake explosives. Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman

A Sayre man charged with an alleged plot to blow up a bank building in downtown Oklahoma City with a van filled with fake explosives would have caused massive destruction if the bomb had been real, the FBI said.

Jerry Drake Varnell, 23, of Sayre, initially wanted to blow up the Federal Reserve Building in Washington, D.C., but settled on attempting to detonate a bomb at the BancFirst building, 101 N. Broadway, according to court documents.

The FBI arrested Varnell about 1 a.m. Saturday after he attempted to detonate what he believed to be an explosives-laden van he had parked in an alley next to BancFirst.

The suspect claimed support for an anti-government group. 

The suspect's family could not be reached for comment Monday.

This photo provided by the Oklahoma Department of Corrections shows Jerry Drake Varnell, of Sayre, Okla., who was arrested Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017, in connection with a plot to detonate a vehicle bomb in an alley adjacent to BancFirst in downtown Oklahoma City. Authorities said Varnell is expected to be formally charged Monday, Aug, 14. (Oklahoma Department of Corrections via AP)
This photo provided by the Oklahoma Department of Corrections shows Jerry Drake Varnell, of Sayre, Okla., who was arrested Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017, in connection with a plot to detonate a vehicle bomb in an alley adjacent to BancFirst in downtown Oklahoma City. Authorities said Varnell is expected to be formally charged Monday, Aug, 14. (Oklahoma Department of Corrections via AP)

Racism condemned in Oklahoma and across the country

The Oklahoman's Ben Felder reported a gathering of hundreds in Oklahoma at the state Capitol Sunday. The rallygoers condemned racism and white supremacy in the wake of events Saturday in Charlottesville, Virginia, where protesters clashed over the removal of a Confederate statue.

Alex Bonicelli and Jose Pantoja hold candles during the Oklahoma Standing in Solidarity  with Charlottesville Rally at the Capitol Sunday, August 13, 2017. Photo by Doug Hoke, The Oklahoman
Alex Bonicelli and Jose Pantoja hold candles during the Oklahoma Standing in Solidarity with Charlottesville Rally at the Capitol Sunday, August 13, 2017. Photo by Doug Hoke, The Oklahoman

Sunday's crowd was diverse, but mostly white. A theme for many at the rally was that it was time for white Americans to speak out against racism in a more direct way.

“The status quo is violent against nonwhite people,” said Stephen Whitmore, 27, a resident of Shawnee. “As a white person, if I don't stand up and point those things out and stand alongside my nonwhite brothers and sisters when they are being attacked and slandered, then I may as well be driving the car.”

By “driving the car,” Whitmore referenced the killing of a young woman in Charlottesville who was run over by a motorist later identified as a Nazi sympathizer, according to The Washington Post.

Similar scenes played out across the country. 

Parents looked for guidance on how to talk to their children about Saturday's events, per the L.A. Times. 

In the mean time, the spotlight shone on the suspect James Alex Fields Jr., 20, of Maumee, Ohio, who is accused of ramming his Dodge Challenger into a crowd of people, killing a 32-year-old woman an injuring 19 others. CNN reports:

Fields made his initial court appearance Monday morning via a video link from jail. He remains in custody. The judge appointed an attorney for Fields and set August 25 as the date for the next hearing.

Fields is being held on suspicion of second-degree murder, malicious wounding and failure to stop in an accident that resulted in death.


His mother, Samantha Bloom, told the Toledo Blade that she didn't know her son was going to Virginia for a white nationalist rally. She thought it had something to do with President Donald Trump.

#ICYMI

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Scientists just discovered the largest volcanic region on earth below the surface of a sweeping ice sheet that covers west Antarctica, The Guardian reports.

The University of Edinburgh wrote online that a third-year student's work led to the discovery. The student analyzed publicly available radar mapping data of Antarctica, then proposed his study to school researchers. 

Antarctica remains among the least studied areas of the globe, and as a young scientist I was excited to learn about something new and not well understood. After examining existing data on West Antarctica, I began discovering traces of volcanism. Naturally I looked into it further, which led to this discovery of almost 100 volcanoes under the ice sheet.

Max Van Wyk de VriesStudent, School of GeoSciences

Related Photos
The BancFirst building located at 101 N. Broadway in downtown Oklahoma City, Okla. on Monday, Aug. 14, 2017. Jerry Drake Varnell, 23, of Sayre, was arrested Saturday in connection with what authorities says is a foiled plot to blow up the bank building in Downtown Oklahoma City with a truck filled with fake explosives. Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman

The BancFirst building located at 101 N. Broadway in downtown Oklahoma City, Okla. on Monday, Aug. 14, 2017. Jerry Drake Varnell, 23, of Sayre, was arrested Saturday in connection with what authorities says is a foiled plot to blow up the bank building in Downtown Oklahoma City with a truck...

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-623d5d8c159493f5145181069ffbd8ac.jpg" alt="Photo - The BancFirst building located at 101 N. Broadway in downtown Oklahoma City, Okla. on Monday, Aug. 14, 2017. Jerry Drake Varnell, 23, of Sayre, was arrested Saturday in connection with what authorities says is a foiled plot to blow up the bank building in Downtown Oklahoma City with a truck filled with fake explosives. Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman " title="The BancFirst building located at 101 N. Broadway in downtown Oklahoma City, Okla. on Monday, Aug. 14, 2017. Jerry Drake Varnell, 23, of Sayre, was arrested Saturday in connection with what authorities says is a foiled plot to blow up the bank building in Downtown Oklahoma City with a truck filled with fake explosives. Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman "><figcaption>The BancFirst building located at 101 N. Broadway in downtown Oklahoma City, Okla. on Monday, Aug. 14, 2017. Jerry Drake Varnell, 23, of Sayre, was arrested Saturday in connection with what authorities says is a foiled plot to blow up the bank building in Downtown Oklahoma City with a truck filled with fake explosives. Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-771dd0fd3bf89510fef5cee5a149b708.jpg" alt="Photo - This photo provided by the Oklahoma Department of Corrections shows Jerry Drake Varnell, of Sayre, Okla., who was arrested Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017, in connection with a plot to detonate a vehicle bomb in an alley adjacent to BancFirst in downtown Oklahoma City. Authorities said Varnell is expected to be formally charged Monday, Aug, 14. (Oklahoma Department of Corrections via AP)" title="This photo provided by the Oklahoma Department of Corrections shows Jerry Drake Varnell, of Sayre, Okla., who was arrested Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017, in connection with a plot to detonate a vehicle bomb in an alley adjacent to BancFirst in downtown Oklahoma City. Authorities said Varnell is expected to be formally charged Monday, Aug, 14. (Oklahoma Department of Corrections via AP)"><figcaption>This photo provided by the Oklahoma Department of Corrections shows Jerry Drake Varnell, of Sayre, Okla., who was arrested Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017, in connection with a plot to detonate a vehicle bomb in an alley adjacent to BancFirst in downtown Oklahoma City. Authorities said Varnell is expected to be formally charged Monday, Aug, 14. (Oklahoma Department of Corrections via AP)</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-0ba44047ae83e7f9e9760aaa0120e2e7.jpg" alt="Photo - The BancFirst building located at 101 N. Broadway in downtown Oklahoma City, Okla. on Monday, Aug. 14, 2017. Jerry Drake Varnell, 23, of Sayre, was arrested Saturday in connection with what authorities says is a foiled plot to blow up the bank building in Downtown Oklahoma City with a truck filled with fake explosives. Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman " title="The BancFirst building located at 101 N. Broadway in downtown Oklahoma City, Okla. on Monday, Aug. 14, 2017. Jerry Drake Varnell, 23, of Sayre, was arrested Saturday in connection with what authorities says is a foiled plot to blow up the bank building in Downtown Oklahoma City with a truck filled with fake explosives. Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman "><figcaption>The BancFirst building located at 101 N. Broadway in downtown Oklahoma City, Okla. on Monday, Aug. 14, 2017. Jerry Drake Varnell, 23, of Sayre, was arrested Saturday in connection with what authorities says is a foiled plot to blow up the bank building in Downtown Oklahoma City with a truck filled with fake explosives. Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-5cf3c8fad5a8e8f0e6117540d13cc2d1.jpg" alt="Photo - United States Attorney Mark A. Yancey, left, and FBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge Raul Bujanda speak during a press conference at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Oklahoma City, Okla. on Monday, Aug. 14, 2017. about the arrest of Jerry Drake Varnell, 23, of Sayre, for a plan to blow up a BancFirst building in located at 101 N. Broadway in downtown Oklahoma City, Okla. Varnell, was arrested Saturday with what authorities says is a foiled plot to blow up the bank building with a truck filled with fake explosives. Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman " title="United States Attorney Mark A. Yancey, left, and FBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge Raul Bujanda speak during a press conference at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Oklahoma City, Okla. on Monday, Aug. 14, 2017. about the arrest of Jerry Drake Varnell, 23, of Sayre, for a plan to blow up a BancFirst building in located at 101 N. Broadway in downtown Oklahoma City, Okla. Varnell, was arrested Saturday with what authorities says is a foiled plot to blow up the bank building with a truck filled with fake explosives. Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman "><figcaption>United States Attorney Mark A. Yancey, left, and FBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge Raul Bujanda speak during a press conference at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Oklahoma City, Okla. on Monday, Aug. 14, 2017. about the arrest of Jerry Drake Varnell, 23, of Sayre, for a plan to blow up a BancFirst building in located at 101 N. Broadway in downtown Oklahoma City, Okla. Varnell, was arrested Saturday with what authorities says is a foiled plot to blow up the bank building with a truck filled with fake explosives. Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-0cf7f982b19929a72d153d2113f3e6a5.jpg" alt="Photo - FBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge Raul Bujanda speaks during a press conference at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Oklahoma City, Okla. on Monday, Aug. 14, 2017. about the arrest of Jerry Drake Varnell, 23, of Sayre, for a plan to blow up a BancFirst building in located at 101 N. Broadway in downtown Oklahoma City, Okla. Varnell, was arrested Saturday with what authorities says is a foiled plot to blow up the bank building with a truck filled with fake explosives. Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman " title="FBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge Raul Bujanda speaks during a press conference at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Oklahoma City, Okla. on Monday, Aug. 14, 2017. about the arrest of Jerry Drake Varnell, 23, of Sayre, for a plan to blow up a BancFirst building in located at 101 N. Broadway in downtown Oklahoma City, Okla. Varnell, was arrested Saturday with what authorities says is a foiled plot to blow up the bank building with a truck filled with fake explosives. Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman "><figcaption>FBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge Raul Bujanda speaks during a press conference at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Oklahoma City, Okla. on Monday, Aug. 14, 2017. about the arrest of Jerry Drake Varnell, 23, of Sayre, for a plan to blow up a BancFirst building in located at 101 N. Broadway in downtown Oklahoma City, Okla. Varnell, was arrested Saturday with what authorities says is a foiled plot to blow up the bank building with a truck filled with fake explosives. Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-bc26f7037240d9230081aaf677466286.jpg" alt="Photo - The BancFirst building located at 101 N. Broadway in downtown Oklahoma City, Okla. on Monday, Aug. 14, 2017. Jerry Drake Varnell, 23, of Sayre, was arrested Saturday in connection with what authorities says is a foiled plot to blow up the bank building in Downtown Oklahoma City with a truck filled with fake explosives. Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman " title="The BancFirst building located at 101 N. Broadway in downtown Oklahoma City, Okla. on Monday, Aug. 14, 2017. Jerry Drake Varnell, 23, of Sayre, was arrested Saturday in connection with what authorities says is a foiled plot to blow up the bank building in Downtown Oklahoma City with a truck filled with fake explosives. Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman "><figcaption>The BancFirst building located at 101 N. Broadway in downtown Oklahoma City, Okla. on Monday, Aug. 14, 2017. Jerry Drake Varnell, 23, of Sayre, was arrested Saturday in connection with what authorities says is a foiled plot to blow up the bank building in Downtown Oklahoma City with a truck filled with fake explosives. Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-15ec8b2173427ef8fdf454a01e5660e6.jpg" alt="Photo - The BancFirst building located at 101 N. Broadway in downtown Oklahoma City, Okla. on Monday, Aug. 14, 2017. Jerry Drake Varnell, 23, of Sayre, was arrested Saturday in connection with what authorities says is a foiled plot to blow up the bank building in Downtown Oklahoma City with a truck filled with fake explosives. Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman " title="The BancFirst building located at 101 N. Broadway in downtown Oklahoma City, Okla. on Monday, Aug. 14, 2017. Jerry Drake Varnell, 23, of Sayre, was arrested Saturday in connection with what authorities says is a foiled plot to blow up the bank building in Downtown Oklahoma City with a truck filled with fake explosives. Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman "><figcaption>The BancFirst building located at 101 N. Broadway in downtown Oklahoma City, Okla. on Monday, Aug. 14, 2017. Jerry Drake Varnell, 23, of Sayre, was arrested Saturday in connection with what authorities says is a foiled plot to blow up the bank building in Downtown Oklahoma City with a truck filled with fake explosives. Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-3fa536270fc3f76fa48da55d2a1380b0.jpg" alt="Photo - Alex Bonicelli and Jose Pantoja hold candles during the Oklahoma Standing in Solidarity with Charlottesville Rally at the Capitol Sunday, August 13, 2017. Photo by Doug Hoke, The Oklahoman " title="Alex Bonicelli and Jose Pantoja hold candles during the Oklahoma Standing in Solidarity with Charlottesville Rally at the Capitol Sunday, August 13, 2017. Photo by Doug Hoke, The Oklahoman "><figcaption>Alex Bonicelli and Jose Pantoja hold candles during the Oklahoma Standing in Solidarity with Charlottesville Rally at the Capitol Sunday, August 13, 2017. Photo by Doug Hoke, The Oklahoman </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-7a51333e5565d734654824d8798bb7a4.jpg" alt="Photo - Michaela Slavid, left, and Liz Cobb hold candles during the Oklahoma Standing in Solidarity with Charlottesville Rally at the Capitol Sunday, August 13, 2017. Photo by Doug Hoke, The Oklahoman " title="Michaela Slavid, left, and Liz Cobb hold candles during the Oklahoma Standing in Solidarity with Charlottesville Rally at the Capitol Sunday, August 13, 2017. Photo by Doug Hoke, The Oklahoman "><figcaption>Michaela Slavid, left, and Liz Cobb hold candles during the Oklahoma Standing in Solidarity with Charlottesville Rally at the Capitol Sunday, August 13, 2017. Photo by Doug Hoke, The Oklahoman </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-50eb1e420776f4f3a5961c33119baf09.jpg" alt="Photo - People hold candles during an Oklahoma Standing in Solidarity with Charlottesville Rally at the Oklahoma state Capitol in Oklahoma City, Sunday, Aug. 13, 2017. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman " title="People hold candles during an Oklahoma Standing in Solidarity with Charlottesville Rally at the Oklahoma state Capitol in Oklahoma City, Sunday, Aug. 13, 2017. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman "><figcaption>People hold candles during an Oklahoma Standing in Solidarity with Charlottesville Rally at the Oklahoma state Capitol in Oklahoma City, Sunday, Aug. 13, 2017. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-fa20a7c158499e5a0fa1859d585a2abe.jpg" alt="Photo - People stand during an Oklahoma Standing in Solidarity with Charlottesville Rally at the Oklahoma state Capitol in Oklahoma City, Sunday, Aug. 13, 2017. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman " title="People stand during an Oklahoma Standing in Solidarity with Charlottesville Rally at the Oklahoma state Capitol in Oklahoma City, Sunday, Aug. 13, 2017. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman "><figcaption>People stand during an Oklahoma Standing in Solidarity with Charlottesville Rally at the Oklahoma state Capitol in Oklahoma City, Sunday, Aug. 13, 2017. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-1274886495085a7a21d3a6a0cd32fb40.jpg" alt="Photo - People stand during an Oklahoma Standing in Solidarity with Charlottesville Rally at the Oklahoma state Capitol in Oklahoma City, Sunday, Aug. 13, 2017. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman " title="People stand during an Oklahoma Standing in Solidarity with Charlottesville Rally at the Oklahoma state Capitol in Oklahoma City, Sunday, Aug. 13, 2017. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman "><figcaption>People stand during an Oklahoma Standing in Solidarity with Charlottesville Rally at the Oklahoma state Capitol in Oklahoma City, Sunday, Aug. 13, 2017. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-c_148c0baa731c92f594e3007e90d745ee.jpg" alt="Photo - Annette Castillo holds a candles during the Oklahoma Standing in Solidarity with Charlottesville Rally at the Capitol Sunday, August 13, 2017. Photo by Doug Hoke, The Oklahoman " title="Annette Castillo holds a candles during the Oklahoma Standing in Solidarity with Charlottesville Rally at the Capitol Sunday, August 13, 2017. Photo by Doug Hoke, The Oklahoman "><figcaption>Annette Castillo holds a candles during the Oklahoma Standing in Solidarity with Charlottesville Rally at the Capitol Sunday, August 13, 2017. Photo by Doug Hoke, The Oklahoman </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-4563ac5cca1997bb467f34ee9eaf728c.jpg" alt="Photo - during the Oklahoma Standing in Solidarity with Charlottesville Rally at the Capitol Sunday, August 13, 2017. Photo by Doug Hoke, The Oklahoman " title=" during the Oklahoma Standing in Solidarity with Charlottesville Rally at the Capitol Sunday, August 13, 2017. Photo by Doug Hoke, The Oklahoman "><figcaption> during the Oklahoma Standing in Solidarity with Charlottesville Rally at the Capitol Sunday, August 13, 2017. Photo by Doug Hoke, The Oklahoman </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-093d7fb0e62f6af1537af94e595295b2.jpg" alt="Photo - " title=""><figcaption></figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-0009901feb6306204390822d59d3ae1f.jpg" alt="Photo - Isaac Miller, Oklahoma City, holds a sign during the Oklahoma Standing in Solidarity with Charlottesville Rally at the Capitol Sunday, August 13, 2017. Photo by Doug Hoke, The Oklahoman " title="Isaac Miller, Oklahoma City, holds a sign during the Oklahoma Standing in Solidarity with Charlottesville Rally at the Capitol Sunday, August 13, 2017. Photo by Doug Hoke, The Oklahoman "><figcaption>Isaac Miller, Oklahoma City, holds a sign during the Oklahoma Standing in Solidarity with Charlottesville Rally at the Capitol Sunday, August 13, 2017. Photo by Doug Hoke, The Oklahoman </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-27578f403dbc650a5a87c7155953c355.jpg" alt="Photo - Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo gestures prior the Spanish Supercup, first leg, soccer match between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, Aug. 13, 2017. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)" title="Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo gestures prior the Spanish Supercup, first leg, soccer match between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, Aug. 13, 2017. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)"><figcaption>Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo gestures prior the Spanish Supercup, first leg, soccer match between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, Aug. 13, 2017. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)</figcaption></figure>
Juliana Keeping

Juliana Keeping is on the enterprise reporting team for The Oklahoman and NewsOK.com. Keeping joined the staff of The Oklahoman in 2012. Prior to that time, she worked in the Chicago media at the SouthtownStar, winning a Peter Lisagor Award... Read more ›

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