FBI: Bomb suspect was paranoid, hated Muslims

AP News
Posted: May 05, 2011 3:47 PM

The man wanted in the bombing of a Florida mosque who was shot and killed when he pulled a gun on agents trying to arrest him in Oklahoma hated Muslims and had become increasingly erratic, according to FBI documents.

The FBI says Sandlin Matthews Smith of St. Johns County, Fla., was shot Wednesday in a field at Glass Mountain State Park near Orienta in northwest Oklahoma. FBI Agent Clayton Simmonds out of the Oklahoma City office says agents opened fire when Smith, 46, pulled out an AK-47 assault rifle as agents approached him.

The documents released Thursday say Smith recently pulled a gun on his niece and said he thought authorities were after him and "he was paranoid that everyone was a cop."

Smith told the niece he bombed the mosque because "he was angry about our men going overseas, fighting and dying" and wanted "to make a statement and show Muslims they were vulnerable too," according to the criminal complaint.

Smith was facing several federal charges, including damage to religious property and possession of a destructive device, in connection with the May 10, 2010, bombing of the Islamic Center of Northeast Florida in Jacksonville. No one was hurt in that explosion, but authorities found remnants of a crude pipe bomb at the scene, and shrapnel from the blast was found a hundred yards away.

Simmonds said Smith had been in contact with acquaintances in Oklahoma and Texas and that may have been why he was in the state. The shooting occurred about 110 miles northwest of Oklahoma City in a sparsely populated area of Major County.

"With that being said, we don't think any of those acquaintances knew about what was going on. I can only speculate that is the reason why he came out this way," he said.

"We truly don't know how he chose that location," said FBI agent Jeff Westcott out of the Jacksonville, Fla., office.

According to the documents, FBI special agents first began investigating Smith after they received a tip from an individual on April 28. Smith had been visiting friends in Georgia the previous week when he got into an altercation and admitted to bombing the Jacksonville mosque and said that "he was wanted by the feds," according to the criminal affidavit.

The source identified a man in a video from the pipe bombing incident as Smith.

According to the affidavit, Smith's father told another individual that he knew his son had bombed a mosque had an unlicensed, fully-automatic AK-47 assault rifle.

The father, whose name is blacked out in the affidavit, said "he was going to go see Sandlin, throw Sandlin's weapons in the river and get Sandlin 'committed' to some sort of mental institution because (the father) is concerned that Sandlin will have a violent encounter with law enforcement," according to the documents.

In an incident on April 23, Smith pointed a gun at an individual while visiting relatives. He called him "police" and was convinced he was the individual was going to arrest him, according to the complaint. Smith forced the individual to turn away from him and get on his knees. The individual told Smith he would have to "shoot him in the face," at which point Smith said, "I give up," began to cry and left the residence.

In an April 30 interview, Smith's wife of nearly 22 years said she and Smith broke up around April 2010. She said his personality changed after he started taking pain medication, including methadone, after falling out of a tree and breaking both legs in November 2009, according to the criminal complaint.

"Sandlin's behavior began to become more erratic after he began taking medications for his pain," she told investigators.

She said Smith had a job with Progressive inspecting underground utilities. The couple has a 16-year-old son.

On May 1, a federal search warrant was issued and executed at Smith's residence in St. John's County, Fla.

Law enforcement seized eight containers of explosive powder and a suspected pressure switch.

Simmonds would not say how they discovered Smith was in Oklahoma, only to say, "we used multiple techniques to gather information."

Westcott said investigators received the tip about his involvement before news about Osama bin Laden's death was public. There is no connection, he said.

"We got contacted late last week by somebody who wanted to provide information. That developed over the weekend," he said. "We worked very hard to talk to a number of people and executed the search warrant on Sunday. This was all kind of developing late last week and over the weekend."

A voicemail message on Smith's cell phone instructs callers to leave a message and "have a good day."