Roman Conaway, a veteran in the US army with explosives training is an ardent Christian, he lists the Bible as the “only book” he has ever read. He has made anti-Islam and anti-government threats and in the lead up to his most recent standoff with the police in which he took his wife hostage he made crazy, threatening calls to St.Louis area Muslims prompting a visit from the FBI.
This is a manifestation of a possible threat we have been talking about for months now, the convergence of “armed and loaded” veterans who do not leave their animus towards Islam and Muslims on the battlefield but also bring it home, either joining groups in the anti-Muslim movement or acting as lone wolves. In this instance we had the overlapping of anti-Muslim and anti-Obama/government feelings, an actualization that should make the Department of Homeland Security look seriously at updating their document on the Rise of Right-Wing Extremism by including anti-Muslim groups.
Standoff over: Threats to president, Muslims lead Fairview Heights man to take hostages with fake suicide belt
BY JACQUELINE LEE - News-Democrat
50-year-old man with a suicide belt wrapped around his waist, with wires coming out of it and attached to a curling iron he claimed was a triggering device, surrendered to FBI and Secret Service agents Wednesday morning after a standoff that was sparked by his alleged threats to Muslims and President Barack Obama.
The man surrendered at 2:15 a.m. Wednesday, shortly after releasing his wife and son.
Roman Conaway, 50, of 9030 Summit Drive in Fairview Heights, was arrested on suspicion of threatening the president and law enforcement with an explosive device, according to FBI Special Agent in Charge Stu McArthur.
The drama began unfolding Tuesday on Summit Drive as well as on the social networking website Facebook. Conaway posted vague threats against Muslims, and later his family members pleaded for him to end the standoff.
Conaway on Tuesday called members of the Muslim community in St. Louis, making wild threats against them and against President Obama, McArthur said. Those community members called the FBI about 1 p.m. Tuesday.
The seven-hour standoff started after the FBI and Secret Service went to Conaway’s home at 9030 Summit Drive about 7 p.m. and were greeted by him outfitted with the belt packed with blocks of what looked like C4 explosives, wires and a curling iron. He pointed to two 55-gallon drums and said the curling iron was a remote triggering device that would activate if he were shot or attacked.
“We were quite surprised to see the props,” McArthur said.
McArthur said they heard Conaway had explosives training and that he was ex-military, which they believed added some credence to his threats.
The blocks on the belt turned out to be Play-Doh. The barrels were filled with water.
Fairview Heights Police Lt. Steve Evans said that by about 8:30 p.m. Tuesday police began evacuating homes in the neighborhood.
After federal agents went to the home, “It quickly evolved into a confrontational situation,” Evans said.
Evans said police were able to see the man and the woman during the standoff because they were outside the home. But as of midnight, police had not been able to determine whether he in fact had explosives.
“We’ve had a visual on everybody there, and everybody seems to be OK,” Evans said. “The man has been verbally confrontational, but there has been no other aggressive action. We’ve taken precautions, but there’s nothing to substantiate claims that there are explosives.”
Evans said another man was at the scene, though it appeared that man was not being held against his will. The two men and the woman were on the lawn of the residence. Police were getting close enough to talk to the suspect, who was “physically detaining” the woman, Evans said.
McArthur later said the woman was Conaway’s wife and the other man was his son.
“No stone is left unturned and every lead is investigated until there is no threat to national security,” McArthur said.
Conaway posted remarks about the situation earlier Tuesday on Facebook.
At about 5 p.m., Conaway wrote: “I need everbody with a camera phone or video phone or video cameras to come to 9030 Summit Drive in Fairview Heights, Illinois. The media and your government think this is a joke. I’m not joking.”
His sister responded: “no joke… and ugh! BRO???????????? ”
She also wrote: “who will I share my Bday with now if you dont’ pull through this! I LOVE YOU… I understand…. but I am sad!!!!!!!!!!!! ”
His niece pleaded with him not to follow through on the threat. “uncle jr.. please dnt do this.. ur my favorite uncle i love u very much.”
Earlier on Tuesday, Conaway wrote that he was going to burn a Quran, and added that “6 other CDs will be released upon my death or arrest against other countries on the Internet. this is not a joke.”
Conaway’s writings indicate he had been involved recently in a child-custody dispute.
He wrote on Aug. 24: “there is no way judge kelly is a christian judge. so i guess god will punish him to the fullest of his wrath.”
Also on Aug. 24, he wrote about having been awake for 92 hours straight: “opps typo well what the h… Been awake over 92hr.im lucky i can see the keyboard doe!”
In his biographical information on Facebook, Conaway states that he’s “anti gov” and that “they are way overpaid.” It also shows a like for blues and guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan and states under favorite books: “bible only book ive ever read.”
St. Clair County court records showed one minor traffic conviction for Conaway and no other arrests.
His relatives said some of his family members were in Fairview Heights and working with police Tuesday night to try to end the standoff.
Residents of the area were evacuated to the Sterling Baptist Church on Bunkum Road. The evacuation of residents was complete by 10 p.m.