Trucker arrested days before he planned to 'shoot up' Memphis, Tennessee, church

Vic Ryckaert Indianapolis Star Published 3:14 PM EDT Aug 20, 2019 INDIANAPOLIS – Federal authorities say they arrested a Florida truck driver in Indianapolis, just days before he planned to shoot people at a church in Tennessee. 

Thomas Matthew McVicker, 38, was planning to “shoot up” a church in Memphis, Tennessee, on Thursday, according to a probable cause affidavit filed Friday in the U.S. District Court of Southern Alabama. Bartlett police said the notes were left on the doors of the buildings. 

Before he could act on his threats, the FBI arrested McVicker in Indianapolis on Monday, according to court records. The court has released no details about the arrest. A spokeswoman for the U.S.

Attorney’s Office in Indianapolis said the records are under seal and declined to comment. This is the most recent case of men being arrested around the country after indicating they wanted to carry out a mass shooting.  Plots thwarted: 3 mass shooting plots stopped around the country in separate incidents, police say

Tips from the public aided in arrests in Connecticut, Florida and Ohio, which occurred on Thursday and Friday. Police in each case said the men, all white and in their 20s, posted online or sent text messages with threats of committing mass shootings. According to the affidavit in McVicker’s case:

– McVicker is a truck driver from Punta Gorda, Florida, but he lives in his semi. One of his friends contacted the FBI Aug.

12, and said McVicker was planning a mass shooting and to kill himself.  “I was thinking about shooting a church up but I am afraid how it will affect my family in the flesh after I’m gone,” McVicker said in an Aug.

9 text to that friend. – McVicker didn’t give a reason for the attack, but told the friend about “spiritual snakes” and evil “entities” that were attacking and torturing him. Motives: Weeks since Gilroy, El Paso and Dayton: What if motives behind mass shootings never emerge?

– McVicker’s mother on Aug.

12 told an FBI agent that he has a Ruger P90 handgun, takes medication for schizophrenia and occasionally uses cocaine and methamphetamine. – On Aug.

14, McVicker told a witness over the phone that he was going to “shoot up” a church in Memphis. “(The witness) stated that McVicker was speaking in a frantic manner and told her that he intended to take his knife and slit the pastor’s throat,” FBI Special Agent Ketrick Kelley wrote in the affidavit.

– McVicker asked his employer for a day off on Aug.

22. The leave request indicated he was planning to spend time in Memphis. The affidavit does not say what church McVicker planned to attack.

The Memphis Police Department was notified of the threat, police spokesman Louis Brownlee said Tuesday. Memphis police work regularly with state and federal authorities on these types of threats “to stay ahead of the curve,” Brownlee said. Court records in Alabama show McVicker received a ticket for driving a truck in an improper lane in Jefferson County, which includes Birmingham, in June 2014.

He was working for Swift Transportation of Gary, Indiana, at the time, records show. McVicker failed to pay the fine until 13 months later, after his driver’s license was suspended, records show. In Tennessee, the Bartlett Police Department said two churches received threatening notes left on their doors. 

The New Hope Christian Church and Christ Church received “threatening notes,” according to Bartlett police.  Bartlett police would not comment on whether there was a connection between the two churches that received threatening notes, and the threats made by McVicker, and said all relevant information about the threats were posted on social media. Contributing: Ryan W.

Miller, USA TODAY; Micaela Watts, Memphis Commerical Appeal,The Associated Press.

Follow Vic Ryckaert on Twitter: @VicRyc

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