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Man Plotted Mass Shooting in Atlanta to Incite ‘Race War,’ Officials Say

An Arizona man who planned to commit a mass shooting at an Atlanta rap concert as a way of inciting a “race war” has been indicted by a federal grand jury on hate crime and firearm charges.

The man, Mark Adams Prieto, hatched a plan in several discussions with two people working with the FBI who posed as racist extremists to carry out a mass shooting targeting Black people and other people of color at a concert in Atlanta on May 14 and May 15, the Justice Department said on Tuesday.

Prieto intended for the shooting to incite a “race war” before the presidential election, prosecutors said in a news release.

Prieto, 58, was reported to the authorities last year by an acquaintance who said he had made concerning comments calling for mass shootings targeting Black people and others, according to officials.

Prieto faces two counts of trafficking in firearms, one count of transfer of a firearm for use in a hate crime and one count of possessing an unregistered firearm.

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He faces a maximum 15-year prison sentence for each firearm trafficking and transfer charge and a maximum 10-year sentence for the unregistered firearm charge, prosecutors said. Prieto also could be fined $250,000 for each count.

Officials stopped and arrested Prieto, of Prescott, Arizona, near Interstate 40 in New Mexico on May 14, according to prosecutors.

He had seven firearms in his vehicle, and investigators carrying out a search warrant would later find an arsenal of guns in his home, according to the indictment.

Officials were tipped off about Prieto in October by a man who had known and frequently chatted with him at gun shows, according to an affidavit filed in court.

The indictment said that beginning in January, at several gun shows around Arizona, Prieto discussed mass shooting plans with an undercover agent and the man who had reported him (now working as an informant).

In a conversation at a gun show on Jan. 21, Prieto asked the men for their help carrying out a mass shooting at a rap concert in Atlanta, where he believed there would be a large number of Black concertgoers.

Prieto suggested they leave behind Confederate flags at the attack site and shout things like “Black lives don’t matter, white lives matter,” to make clear the shooting was racially motivated, according to the affidavit.

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