CLEVELAND — A federal jury on Friday convicted a Cleveland man of plotting to kidnap law enforcement officers.
Christian Ferguson was convicted of two counts of attempted kidnapping just a day prior to the one-year anniversary of his arrest. Prosecutors say the 21-year-old planned to lure first responders using a fake distress call and take them hostage, with his ultimate goal being to "start an uprising."
According to court records, the FBI first received a complaint in April of 2020 that a man was making "violent and extremist" posts in a chatroom. That man was later identified as Ferguson, and authorities claim he spoke of making a false in-progress call to bring officers to a "remote location" where he would rob them of their weapons and kill them.
Once the FBI got wind of Ferguson's plan, they introduced him to various undercover sources, who spoke and later met with the suspect to discuss plans for the attack. Not knowing it was a sting operation, Ferguson continued to put his scheme in motion and even practiced with an AR-15 rifle, while also indicating that his "final play" was Washington, D.C.
On May 8, 2020, Ferguson ended up placing a fake emergency call inside Cuyahoga Valley National Park to gauge the response time of park rangers and believed four federal agents had arrived, and insisted he would "kill them all" if that many were there for the "actual event." But instead of getting to that point, Ferguson was arrested on-scene.
Bridget M. Brennan, acting U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, released the following statement regarding Ferguson's conviction:
"Mr. Ferguson devised a plan, and took steps to see it through, that involved placing a fake distress call to lure responding officers to the scene so that he could violently attack them, steal their department-issued weapons and equipment, and incite various militias to similarly attempt to overthrow the U.S. government and its institutions. Exploiting first responders’ most solemn obligation – to protect and serve – as a way of luring them into a violent ambush and inciting violence against our democratic institutions was cowardly, heinous, and, as Mr. Ferguson’s jury determined today, criminal. The community members who reported this plan, and the federal agents who worked to prevent it, should be commended for their actions. Lives were saved."
Authorities from Cuyahoga Falls and the Cuyahoga Valley National Park assisted the FBI in the investigation. Ferguson is scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 27.