Jerry Drake Varnell, 23, of Sayre, Ok., was arrested Saturday morning relating to a plan to detonate a bomb outside a BancFirst branch in downtown Oklahoma City.

FBI sting halts bomber’s plans to replicate 1995 Oklahoma City bomb

Raul Bujanda, the FBI assistant special agent in charge, said on Monday in a statement that Varnell had been arrested early on Saturday morning and that he had plans on copying the Oklahoma City Bomb attack by Timothy McVeigh. The New York Post reports that Varnell was also inspired in his actions by the film “Fight Club.”

As reported by NewOK, Varnell was arrested by the FBI at around 1 a.m.

Saturday after attempting to detonate what he believed to be an explosives-filled van in an alley alongside the BancFirst building.

According to the FBI, the attempted bomber's original plan was to set off a bomb at the Federal Reserve Building in Washington, DC. Reportedly Varnell wanted to use an explosive device similar to that used in the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 because of his views against the U.S. government. Varnell himself said in a statement that he hoped to start an "Anti-Government revolution."

Undercover FBI agent involved with Varnell

Varnell had been closely monitored for some months prior to the attempted attack. The plot came to light after an undercover FBI agent offered to assist Varnell in his plans.

The complaint reads that Varnell took several actions in laying out his plan, by first identifying BancFirst as the targeted building. The alleged attempted bomber then drew up a statement he was planning to release on social media after the attack. Varnell then assembled the explosive device with the help of the undercover agent, who also helped him load it into what is believed to be a stolen van.

Varnell then drove that van from El Reno to Oklahoma City. Varnell then used a cellphone to dial a number he believed would lead to the explosion.

Bomb was inert and no danger to the public

Authorities said the bomb was in effect inert and posed no danger to the public. Oklahoma Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Kathryn Peterson assured there was no concern relating to the security or safety of the community during their investigation.

She added that the FBI had monitored Varnell’s actions closely all along the way.

Koco 5 News quotes BancFirst officials as saying in a statement that they had been working closely with the FBI, again assuring that the general public, customers and their employees were never at risk. They believe their bank was merely a convenient and random selection made by Varnell. Officials then went on to commend the FBI for their dedicated and diligent work in protecting the U.S.

History of mental illness

As reported by NewsOK, court records show that Varnell had a history of mental illness.

He had been accused in 2013 of attempting to strangle his wife in their apartment in Weatherford. However his now former wife told campus officials at the Oklahoma State University, where their home was located, that her husband had suffered a “schizophrenic episode." She chose not to press charges against her husband but rather to seek help for Varnell.

Varnell was taken into custody and is facing charges for his attempt to use the explosive device and if convicted, could be facing up to a maximum 20-year sentence in prison. Varnell was set to appear in federal court in Oklahoma City on Monday afternoon.