CHICAGO (AP) — Three men arrested earlier this week when police raided a Chicago apartment were being held Saturday on terrorismconspiracy charges, accused of trying to make Molotov cocktails ahead of the NATO summit.
Their attorney, Sarah Gelsomino, said the men are “absolutely in shock and have no idea where these charges are coming from.”
They were scheduled to be in court later Saturday for a bond hearing on charges of conspiracy to commit terrorism, possession of an explosive or incendiary device and providing material support for terrorism.
Six others arrested Wednesday in the South Side raid were released Friday without being charged.
Among the items seized by federal authorities was beer-making equipment, Gelsomino said.
Chicago police Lt. Kenneth Stoppa declined to elaborate on the case beyond confirming the charges against the three who were still in custody.
Police identified the men being held as Brian Church, 20, of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.; Jared Chase, 24, of Keene, N.H.; and Brent Vincent Betterly, 24. A police spokesman gave Betterly’s hometown as Oakland Park, Mass., but no such town exists. There is an Oakland Park, Fla., that is near Fort Lauderdale.
The three came to Chicago in late April to take part in May Day protests, said activist Bill Vassilakis, who said he let them stay in his apartment.
He said Betterly was an industrial electrician and had volunteered to help wire service at The Plant, a former meatpacking facility that has been turned into a food incubator with the city’s backing.
Vassilakis said he thought the charges were unwarranted.
“All I can say about that is, if you knew Brent, you would find that to be the most ridiculous thing you’ve ever heard. He was the most stand-up guy that was staying with me. He and the other guys had done nothing but volunteer their time and energy,” he said.”
Authorities in Oakland Park, Fla., said Betterly and two other young men walked into a public high school last fall after a night of tequila drinking and took a swim in the pool, according to a report in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
They stole fire extinguishers from three school buses, discharged one and smashed a cafeteria window with another. The vandalism caused about $2,000 in damage, the newspaper said.
Betterly was charged with burglary, theft and criminal mischief.
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