On Sunday, the FBI arrested Demetrius Pitts, whom they allege was planning to bomb Cleveland’s Independence Day celebration in the name of Al Qaeda. Pitts had other ideas as well, according to the FBI. Kim Palmer and Makini Brice report for Reuters:
Pitts also suggested giving the children of military personnel remote control cars packed with explosives during the event, in the hope they would unwittingly detonate the bombs, the FBI said.
Pitts, most recently of the Cleveland suburb of Maple Heights, has criminal and traffic convictions in Hamilton County, which includes Cincinnati, dating back to 1989 through 2006. He served time in prison for a 1993 robbery in the area.
In his latest run-in with law enforcement, he was charged with attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization. He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
He appeared in court wearing glasses, a gray T-shirt, khaki shorts and black sneakers with the laces removed. He told the judge he was unemployed and was assigned to the public defender’s office.
Pitts also discussed possibly traveling to San Francisco for reconnaissance for al Qaeda, the FBI said.
After the Boston Marathon bombing, it became apparent to Americans that public events weren’t as safe as they used to be. With security at military bases, airports, and big city buildings increased, terrorists are looking for softer targets. The 2017 massacre in Las Vegas is another example of a soft target event being attacked.
So how can you stay safe at big events?
There is one fool proof method for safety at big events, avoid them altogether. This option may take some of the joy out of life, but if your target is to remain as safe as possible, avoiding crowds could be the best way possible.
Have an Exit Plan:
If you decide to brave the crowds, you need to use your head. During the Bataclan theater attack in Paris, the gunmen were able to bottle up their victims inside the theater and then take hostages. Those who were able to get to an exit survived the attack. Any time you visit a major event, keep in your mind exactly how you would get out of the building or arena. Where would you go next? How would you get home? Have an exit plan.
One way you can attempt to even the odds is to get your concealed carry permit. In America, every state now offers some form of carry option. It may be an arduous process if you live in one of the states where concealed carry is discouraged, but it can be done. Adding the option of firepower to your defense makes you a more formidable target.
Food, Shelter, Electricity?:
What about the essentials? Are you in a city far from home? Do you have some place to stay? After 9/11, Manhattan was sealed off from the world. People who lived off the island were stuck for a time. If you are headed to a place that is physically separated from your home, say by an ocean or river, you should think about where you could seek shelter there. Where will you get food? Where will you charge your phone? Leaving an MRE, and a solar charger for your phone in your car could make a massive difference to your comfort level in the event of any kind of disaster.
With those ideas in mind, have a safe, fun, Independence Day.