Posted: July 30, 2002
Federal and local law enforcement officers in Johnston County, North Carolina, arrested Charles Robert Barefoot, Jr., a North Carolina Ku Klux Klan leader, on July 19 for allegedly plotting to blow up the Johnston County Sheriff's Office, the sheriff himself, and the county jail. Federal authorities charged Barefoot, the self-styled "Grand Dragon" of the Nation's Knights of the KKK, with one count of unlawfully possessing a firearm and ammunition while subject to a domestic violence protective order (more charges may be pending). The protective order stems from an ongoing Johnston County case, where Barefoot is accused of assault with a deadly weapon against his wife, Sharon Barefoot. Charles Barefoot has been ordered held without bond.
Following the arrest, authorities searched Barefoot's home near Benson, North Carolina, discovering a cache of at least two dozen weapons that included handguns, rifles, an Uzi and an AK-47. They also found two homemade bombs as well as bomb-making ingredients such as ether, detonating cord and fuses.
Charles Barefoot had previously been an officer in the North Carolina chapter of the Indiana-based National Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. In Indiana, the National Knights developed a reputation for aggressiveness and intimidation, as members held weapons trainings and cross burnings on Klan property and frightened local residents. In 2001, Klan leader Railton Loy was convicted on charges of harassing a newspaper reporter.
According to Loy, however, Barefoot felt that the National Knights were not aggressive enough in their ideology and tactics. About six months ago, Barefoot broke with the National Knights to form a splinter group he called the Nation's Knights of the KKK. Barefoot registered his organization in April as the Church of the Nation's Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, a "charitable and religious organization," and declared himself its agent.
In its short existence, Barefoot's Klan engaged in little public activity. It only came to public attention after the Klan leader applied to a local chamber of commerce to participate in their 52nd Annual Mule Days parade in September. His request was denied.
In mid-July, a confidential source contacted the Johnston County Sheriff's Office about the Klan leader's alleged activities. According to Sheriff Steve Bizzell, the source said that about a dozen people had met several times at Barefoot's trailer home and were gathering bomb-making materials. Bizzell said that they talked about using bombs to blow up the Johnston County Courthouse, including the sheriff's office and the jail. This triggered an investigation that quickly led to Barefoot's arrest.
The same day Barefoot was arrested, his 18 year-old son, Daniel Leigh Barefoot, was charged with two counts of arson in connection with burning an unoccupied building (a hay barn) and school bus.