MORE: 18-page affidavit on Sandlin Smith
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A St. Johns County man, shot to death today as officials tried to serve him a search warrant, is responsible for the 2010 bombing of an Islamic center in Jacksonville, according to the FBI.
The Islamic Center of Northeast Florida was bombed in May 2010 after someone planted a pipe bomb during evening prayers. FBI officials said at the time it caused about $500 worth of damage to the Islamic center building, but was still a powerful bomb. No one was injured.
According to Special Agent in Charge James Casey in Jacksonville, the FBI pinpointed Sandlin Matthews Smith, 46, of the Julington Creek area in St. Johns County last week. Agents interviewed several people who Smith had confided in, but spoke to a crucial witness last week which led them to Smith.
Smith was shot to death around 2:30 p.m. today during a confrontation with federal agents in Fairview, Okla., who came to serve a search warrant on him.
Casey said about a dozen of Smith's acquaintances knew about his involvement; some had known for at least a year. Smith possibly bragged about the bombing to some of them, he said.
The FBI searched two of his known homes in St. Johns County over the weekend and found explosive materials, Casey said. He was in St. Johns County recently; it is unclear why he went to Oklahoma.
According to the FBI, Smith acted alone and was not affiliated with a group. Casey said although two pieces of video were released to the media shortly after the bombing, another piece featuring a Toyota Tundra was withheld.
Agents did not release it because they were unsure the vehicle was involved. But they say the video shows a Tundra coming to the mosque area, then leaving around the time of the bombing. The FBI plans to eventually release that video.
FBI Special Agent R. Clayton Simmonds in Oklahoma said today the agents on the scene during the shooting weren't injured in the incident. The warrant was out of Jacksonville and agents had considered Smith to be armed and dangerous, he said.
Agents said Smith was in fact armed when they confronted and surrounded him about two miles outside of Oklahoma City near Glass Mountain State Park.
Smith was a husband and father, and had no prior charges in St. Johns County.
Leaders at the Islamic center are planning a news conference at 11 a.m. The reward for information in the bombing increased to $25,000; no one has received that money at this point.
First Coast News, Associated Press