OCALA, Fla. (WOGX FOX 51) - Curtis says on Valentine’s Day he saw ATF agents just down the street, swarming around the house of Mark Charles Barnett.
“Just amazing to see all those unmarked vehicles out there, federal agents and such,” Curtis said.
ATF agents say Barnett's scheme was to plant ten bombs in target stores up and down the East Coast, including in Florida. They say he did it to make money on target stock, believing the coordinated explosions would tank targets stock price, then he’d buy low and wait for it to come back up.
“People use other, if you will, weapons or something for financial gain. This just happened to be destructive devices,” said ATF Special Agent Daryl McCrary.
The Feds say Barnett recruited someone to put the bombs in the stores, and promised to pay him ten thousand dollars, but that guy ratted him out.
The Feds say they busted the suspect because he trusted the wrong guy. When he did, they say, it was time to pounce. Craig Curtis saw it all from his window.
“Ten or eleven in the morning, I saw agents in fatigues with camouflage,” Curtis said.
“It was critical,” Agent McCrary acknowledged, “that's what popped the whole case. That and the quick work of FDLE [Florida Department of Law Enforcement], Dept. of Corrections, was critical in getting this investigation off the ground.”
Barnett is a repeat criminal who was out on parole. “When he moved in they passed-around a flyer with him, I guess he was a sexual offender,” Curtis recalled.
Barnett is a registered sex offender with a long rap sheet that includes rape and kidnapping. Now he is back behind bars, being held without bond.