SWEETWATER, Fla. (WSVN) — New details have emerged in the case of a man accused of planning to bomb Dolphin Mall.
According to the FBI, 53-year-old Vicente Solano was plotting to kill as many people as he could by setting off an explosive at the mall’s food court.
Solano appeared in federal court Monday, accused of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction.
7News spoke to Heidy Rivas, who lives at the Sweetwater apartment complex where Solano lived. “He was a decent guy. To me, he was a decent guy,” she said.
When asked what it felt like to hear about Solano’s alleged plans, Rives replied, “To me, it was a shock.”
A man walked out of Solano’s unit, located at 610 N.W. 109th Ave. When asked to comment on Solano, he waved a 7News reporter aside and replied, “No.”
According to the criminal complaint, Solano intended to target a busy Dolphin Mall on Black Friday. However, the plan was moved up to Friday, Oct. 20.
Investigators said Solano was inspired by the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and had begun mapping out his terror plot in late September.
But, authorities said, the suspect was unaware he was working with an informant and undercover agents.
Solano was arrested by the FBI just steps from the mall, with what he thought was a live pressure cooker bomb hidden in luggage.
As for his motive, the FBI reports Solano expressed anger over foreign and domestic policies that made him feel excluded because of his temporary immigration status.
The FBI cites a recording they said was created by Solano wearing all black and standing by an ISIS flag, in which he said, “The racist president who is a supremacist — white, who does not like Blacks, does not like the Chinese, he does not like the Muslims, he doesn’t like the Hispanics. He does not like anybody. They are indeed murderers, genocidists, invaders of this country who came to this country to kill all of the Indians. They abolished them, and now they’re telling us to get out of here. They are the ones who have to leave. (Expletive) that. In the name of Allah and our leader, Abu, we are going to defeat you.”
The FBI worked with Sweetwater police on the day of the arrest. Local officers were aware of the investigation and were prepared to assist.
“This was an operation carried out by the FBI,” said Sweetwater Police Chief Placido Diaz. “They did a phenomenal job that ended in the arrest of a potential terrorist who was out to do severe harm to individuals and residents at the mall.”
Solano remains in custody and is scheduled to have a pre-trial detention hearing on Thursday. His arraignment is set for Nov. 6.
If convicted, Solano could face a maximum sentence of life in prison and a $250,000 fine.
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