A meatpacking town in Kansas opened its doors to Somali refugees. Then a group of Trump supporters plotted to kill them after Election Day.
On October 11, 2016, less than a month before Election Day, police in Liberal, Kansas, sat in their cruisers outside G&G Home Center, waiting for Curtis Allen to emerge. The mobile home dealership where Allen worked was nothing more than a prefab trailer hauled onto a patch of scrub grass along a remote stretch of Highway 83 on the outskirts of town. His GMC Yukon was sitting in the parking lot, so the officers felt certain that he was one of two men they could see moving around inside. When the men left in separate vehicles, police believed that Allen was in the Yukon—but it was getting dark and they had to be sure. After the trucks turned onto the highway, the officers signaled for both drivers to pull over.
The police had reason to be cautious. Less than an hour earlier, Allen’s girlfriend had called 911 to report that he had beaten her during an argument. When Sergeant Jeffrey Wade from the Liberal Police Department arrived to take a statement at the mobile home park where she and Allen lived, the woman showed him something unexpected: a room packed with handguns, gunsmithing tools, and boxes of ammunition stacked to the ceiling. Police later estimated that the trailer contained nearly a metric ton of bullets.
Now, with their lights flashing, officers warily approached the two vehicles on the highway shoulder. A search of Allen’s Yukon turned up magazines for AR-15s, AK-47s, and Glock handguns. Allen, who had an earlier conviction for domestic battery, was barred from possessing guns or ammunition; Liberal police arrested him on the spot. The other driver, Gavin Wright, Allen’s boss at G&G, was asked to submit voluntarily to a search of his Dodge Ram. He refused and was released.
Soon after, Liberal’s police chief was contacted by the FBI. It turned out that the bureau had been tracking Allen and Wright, as well as a third suspect named Patrick Stein, for months. The three men were the founders of a new anti-Muslim white supremacist group that called itself the Crusaders. As their inaugural act, the FBI said, the men were plotting to carry out a Timothy McVeigh–style bombing in Garden City, Kansas, about an hour north of Liberal. Their plan was to detonate two cargo vans loaded with massive amounts of ammonium nitrate in the parking lots of the Garden Spot Apartments, a sprawling complex straddling both sides of West Mary Street. The drab, one-story units were inhabited primarily by Somalis and other refugees, who had come to Garden City to work at the nearby Tyson meatpacking plant.