FBI Cleveland
Public Affairs Officer Susan Licate
May 12, 2020

Man Arrested in Connection with an Attempt to Kidnap Law Enforcement

On May 8, 2020, Christian Stanley Ferguson, 20 years old, of Cleveland, Ohio, was taken into custody without incident by law enforcement. Agents from the Cleveland Division FBI, along with Cuyahoga Valley National Park Rangers, conducted law enforcement activity within the boundaries of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Ferguson was placed into custody at approximately 6 p.m.

According to a criminal complaint filed today, Ferguson was identified after engaging in several violent and extremist postings made on the cross-platform communication application Discord. Over several weeks, Ferguson discussed his desire to call police to report a false crime was in progress to prompt a response by law enforcement. Specifically, he expressed an interest in a response by federal law enforcement because he believed they had better quality firearms and body armor to steal. He made statements about tactical options for killing multiple targets and the disposal of their bodies. He reaffirmed his plan to ambush law enforcement, kill them, rob them of their weapons, and start an uprising.

As a result of the conversations in the Discord chatrooms controlled by Ferguson, he met on several occasions with individuals to further discuss Ferguson’s plan in order to see it to fruition. Ferguson then engaged in practice drills with an AR-15 rifle and on one occasion conducted reconnaissance in a dry run. He ultimately facilitated a hoax distress call within the boundaries of the National Park to gauge response time by park rangers. Ferguson believed four federal officers arrived and indicated that if that many officers respond to the real event, they would likely have to kill them all. The FBI was able to successfully monitor these meetings.

Ferguson has been held in local custody since May 8 and was transferred to federal custody this morning. He has been charged with attempted kidnapping. He will have his initial appearance this afternoon at 3:30 p.m. in U.S. Magistrate Judge Kathleen B. Burke’s courtroom.

This case was investigated by the Cuyahoga Valley National Park Rangers, Cuyahoga Falls Police Department, City of Cuyahoga Falls Prosecutor’s Office, and the Cleveland Division of the FBI and is being prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office-Northern District of Ohio.

A charge is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Any questions regarding this press release should be directed to SSA Kimberly J. Schwarting at kjschwarting@fbi.gov or (216) 522-1400.