Man planned racist mass shooting at Bad Bunny concert to spark ‘race war,’ feds say

An Arizona man planned a mass shooting targeting Black concertgoers in Atlanta in an attempt to spark a “race war” before November’s U.S. presidential election, federal prosecutors said.

Mark Adams Prieto, a 58-year-old gun show vendor, intended for the violence to unfold at a “rap concert” at the State Farm Arena on May 14 and May 15, court documents say.

The venue’s calendar shows Puerto Rican rapper and singer Bad Bunny was the only artist scheduled for those dates.

Prieto’s plan unraveled because he was unaware that the two people he discussed it with between January and May were working with the FBI, according to prosecutors.

Prieto, who is white, revealed the details of his plot — including how he said “he planned to leave confederate flags after the shooting” — with both individuals at gun shows in Arizona, an FBI special agent wrote in an affidavit in support of a criminal complaint.

He was mistaken in believing “they shared his racist beliefs,” prosecutors said.

Prieto, of Prescott, was indicted by a federal grand jury June 11 on charges of firearms trafficking, transfer of a firearm for use in a hate crime and possession of an unregistered firearm, the U.S. The Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona announced in a new release.

Information regarding his legal representation wasn’t immediately available.

‘Suspicious and alarming comments’

Prieto landed on the FBI’s radar in October, when one of the people working with the agency informed the FBI’s Phoenix office that Prieto “expressed a desire to incite a race war” before the election, the affidavit says.

Over the past three years, this individual had made small talk with Prieto at multiple gun shows, according to the affidavit.

“Within the last year,” the person told the FBI that Prieto “began making suspicious and alarming comments, including advocating for a mass shooting, and specifically targeting ‘blacks, Jews, or Muslims,’” the affidavit says.

They said Prieto was convinced that martial law will be enforced following the election “and that a mass shooting should occur prior to the implementation of martial law,” the FBI agent wrote in the affidavit.

Why Atlanta?

At a gun show in Phoenix on Jan. 20, Prieto made small talk with this individual and an undercover FBI agent, the affidavit says.

On Jan. 21, the second day of the gun show, Prieto revealed he wanted to carry out a mass shooting against Black people at an Atlanta rap concert, according to the affidavit.

The affidavit says Prieto told them:

“The reason I say Atlanta. Why, why is Georgia such a (expletive) state now? When I was a kid that was one of the most conservative states in the country. Why is it not now? Because as the crime got worse in LA, St. Louis, and all these other cities, all the (racial slurs) moved out of those (places) and moved to Atlanta.”

On Feb. 24, at a gun show in Phoenix, Prieto told the two people working with the FBI that he wanted to cause “panic” and “pandemonium” at the concert, and for the concertgoers to be corralled during the shooting, according to the affidavit.

This photo shows Prieto arriving at the gun show on Feb. 24, according to court documents.
This photo shows Prieto arriving at the gun show on Feb. 24, according to court documents.

The next day, he sold one of them an “AK-style” rifle and later sold them an “AR-style” rifle on March 24, prosecutors said.

On March 23, Prieto had a vendor table with nine firearms at a gun show in Prescott, where he confirmed he wanted the mass shooting to happen May 14 and 15, according to the affidavit.

He then proposed pushing back the date of the attack to June or July, saying “The hotter the weather, the better because people will want to be outside more. When it gets hot, people can’t think straight,” the affidavit says.

Arrest made

Prieto was under constant FBI surveillance as he developed his plan, according to prosecutors.

After leaving Arizona, he was arrested in New Mexico while heading east on Interstate 40 on May 14, prosecutors said.

Inside his car, authorities found seven firearms and located additional guns at his home, “including an unregistered short-barreled rifle,” according to prosecutors.

If convicted on a firearms trafficking charge he could be sentenced up to 15 years in prison and fined up to $250,000, the U.S. Attorney’s office said. If Prieto is convicted of transfer of firearm for use in a hate crime, the charge carries the same maximum penalties.

For the charge of possession of an unregistered firearm, Prieto could be sentenced up to 10 years in prison and fined up to $250,000 if he’s convicted, according to prosecutors.

Prieto was ordered to be detained ahead of trial because “the nature and seriousness of danger to the community is extreme,” court records show.

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