The news of a foiled Fourth of July terrorist attack plans, and the arrest of the man behind them, comes as cities across the country, including Norwalk, prepare for Fourth of July celebrations.
Norwalk will celebrate the holiday with a parade beginning at 10:30 a.m. today.
The FBI said the would-be terrorist, Demetrius Nathaniel Pitts, 48, wanted to recruit people to kill Americans.
He's accused of telling an undercover agent he would have no remorse if he took lives in the name of religion, The Toledo Blade reported.
The newspaper said the man is accused of intending to use remote-controlled toy cars to set off several bombs, which could have killed hundreds. The attack was designed to terrorize Cleveland as the city celebrated Independence Day.
"They kill one of us, we kill ten thousand of them," Pitts said in a video FBI agents found on his phone, according to The Blade. "They kill two of us, we kill the whole city."
While countless Ohioians are thankful for the FBI’s foresight, many are concerned of other potential plots that could be out there in other cities celebrating the Independence Day holiday.
Norwalk Mayor Rob Duncan said local parade-goers can take comfort in knowing the city isn’t cutting any corners on safety during the festivities.
“We’ve already had some training and a mandatory work day for the guys for the parade,” Duncan said.
“In their training they have been taught to watch vigilantly at all times — not just to watch the parade, but to keep an eye out (everywhere). They’ve been trained to look for certain actions and people that might look suspicious.
“We’ll be out in full force protecting citizens of Norwalk as we always do,” he added. “It’s just that there’s a few more people out on this occasion.”
Pitts, who grew up in Philadelphia and was living in Maple Heights, faces federal terrorism charges and accusations of plotting a terrorism attack during Cleveland’s Independence Day celebration.
Federal agents arrested the man Sunday and charged him in U.S. District Court with attempting to provide material support to al-Qaeda. For years, through various social media accounts, Pitts has expressed a desire to kill Americans, according to an FBI affidavit filed in the case.
“Clevelanders are grateful to the FBI and all law enforcement officers for their work protecting our city and our neighbors from this attack,” said U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, who lives in Cleveland. “And we thank all law enforcement who work every day to keep our country safe and secure from the ongoing threat of homegrown terrorism.”
“This plot underscores the threat we continue to face from home-grown terrorism. I applaud the FBI and its law enforcement partners for their hard work to stop this threat and ensure that everyone can have a safe and secure Fourth,” Senator Rob Portman said in a prepared statement.