INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – A truck driver who federal investigators say planned to carry out a mass shooting at a Memphis church was captured in Indianapolis.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation said Thomas Matthew McVicker, 38, of Punta Gorda, Florida, first came under scrutiny on Aug 12, when the FBI in Tampa received a tip that he planned to carry out a mass shooting and then kill himself, according to court documents.
Court documents said a friend alerted them to the situation after McVicker sent a series of disturbing text messages days earlier.
“I’m thinking about shooting a church up but I’m afraid how it will affect my family in the flesh when I’m gone,” he wrote. “So I think I’m just gonna kill some people on the street and get away with it then kill myself.”
When his friend urged him to get some help, McVicker replied, “I’m telling you there won’t be a glorious turnaround for me, I’m going to be gone soon forever.”
McVicker’s family said he’s being treated for schizophrenia and sometimes uses cocaine and methamphetamine. His mother told the FBI that sometimes he “hears voices” and claims to be possessed by demons. He had a Ruger P90 handgun in his possession.
McVicker said he planned to take some time off work on Aug. 22 while in Memphis, Tennessee. His friend later contacted the FBI in Tampa again because McVicker was acting erratically and said he planned to target a church in Memphis.
He “was speaking in a frantic manner and told [his friend] that he intended to take his knife and slit the pastor’s throat,” court documents said. While he didn’t give specifics, he insisted that “something” would happen when he visited Memphis.
The FBI confirmed with McVicker’s employer that he’d requested time off on Aug. 22; the request indicated he planned to go to Memphis. Investigators looked through his text conversations with his friend, who also said McVicker wanted to carry out a mass shooting at a Memphis church.
Based on the information received in the case, the FBI applied for an arrest warrant. He was stopped in Indianapolis and arrested by Indiana State Police.
Former FBI Agent, Doug Kouns says this case plays an important reminder if you see something, say something.
“FBI agents and pretty much all law enforcement are spread too thin to be on top of everything, everywhere all of the time. We rely on the public to be those extra eyes and ears,” said Kouns, “No matter what it is, if it causes you concern air on the safe side and report that.”
His arrest is the latest in a string of cases in which potential mass shooters have been stopped.