Posted: December 11, 2001
A Connecticut man was arrested today after police seized an arsenal of assault rifles, hand grenades and hundreds of rounds of ammunition at a home he shared with his parents in the Westville neighborhood of New Haven.
Police found bomb-making materials and a significant amount of hate literature in the home of 31-year-old Charles Cornelius, including materials from the white supremacist group World Church of the Creator (WCOTC).
Police also were searching for a long-range sniper rifle that Cornelius allegedly purchased using a dead man's identity from a pawnshop last May. The rifle, a Barrett 82-A1, has a range of up to 2,000 yards and can fire incendiary rounds strong enough to burst through a manhole cover.
The arrest came weeks after the Anti-Defamation League issued a report on extremism in Connecticut, including the active presence of the WCOTC, which has staged two controversial meetings in Connecticut within the past year. It is believed that Cornelius attended at least at one of those events.
Connecticut was chosen by ADL as the first state for a detailed report on extremism because it defies a popular stereotype - that extremists are found only in remote rural areas. The state has experienced a growth in extremist activity in recent years, including hate group activity, according to the ADL report, Extremism in Connecticut.
"While Connecticut is certainly not a haven for hate groups, we have documented sustained and alarming hate group activity in this state," said David Waren, ADL Regional Director for Connecticut. "As underscored by recent terrorist events, extremist rhetoric and actions must be taken seriously. We commend state and local police for their efforts in this case."
State Police Lt. Robert Kiehm, commanding officer of the Special Licensing and Firearms Unit, said that the arrest was the culmination of a six-month investigation.
Police have offered few details about the investigation or how they learned of the weapons cache. While they have no evidence Cornelius was planning an attack on a specific target, he allegedly planned to send anti-Semitic letters to a number of alumni at the Hopkins School, a private school located across the street from his home. Cornelius attended Hopkins from 1982 to 1987 before being expelled, officials have said. It was not clear if anyone at the school had received hate mail prior to the arrest.
Cornelius was charged with four counts of illegal possession of an assault weapon. Calling him "a threat to public safety," a Superior Court judge set bail at $2.6 million.