While the country was still mourning all the lives lost in the tragic Las Vegas mass shooting, a man in North Carolina was reportedly planning to blow up an airport terminal.
On Friday, a man later identified as Michael Christopher Estes entered the Asheville Regional Airport carrying a bag that allegedly contained an explosive device comprising of ammonium nitrate and fuel oil along with sharp nails and bullets. According to the official report, the 46-year-old left the bag unattended in the departure area and left the building.
Fortunately, a TSA officer discovered the device after a police dog sniffed the bag and “signaled” the presence of explosives. The authorities were able to disarm the bomb and issue a photo of the suspect thanks to the surveillance cameras.
The FBI reached out to the three stores — Walmart, Lowes and REI — from where Ester had reportedly bought the items used in the explosive device. Although the suspect had paid for everything in cash, he had used his membership card at REI, which helped the officials track him down.
He was arrested on Sunday, but the news barely drew any national attention.
Person of interest identified & detained. Federal investigation ongoing. https://t.co/K7QjOrbH0G— FBI Charlotte (@FBICharlotte) October 7, 2017
A likely reason: Estes is white. Had he been a person of color — particularly an African American or a Muslim — things would have been extremely different.
First of all, he would have already been branded a domestic terrorist or an extremist and his mugshot would have been all over the internet. News outlets would have branded him as a thug or a terrorist and members of an entire community would have been demonized for the act of one man.
However, since he was neither black nor a Muslim, Estes went unnoticed despite the fact his motives appear to be extremely sinister.
"Estes claimed that he was getting ready to 'fight a war on U.S. soil,' but also claimed that he did not actually set the alarm clock," read the FBI complaint. "Estes described how he created the device ... and then rigged the alarm clock to strike the matches and cause the flame necessary to trigger the device. More specifically, the alarm clock would go off, the matches would strike, the Sterno would heat up, and then the ammonium nitrate would explode."
The officials claim the alarm was set for 6 am and would have caused a lot of harm if the authorities had not rendered it useless.
"Estes described how he created the device using ammonium nitrate and the Sterno as a fuel source and then rigged the alarm clock to strike the matches and cause the flame necessary to trigger the device. Estes admitted to putting the nails in the device as well,” the complaint continued. “The jar was filled with steel wool that was then wrapped around nails and one shotgun cartridge. There was an alarm clock taped to the outside of the jar. There was then a grouping of matches taped to the striker arm positioned between the bells, and the bells were removed.”
It is outrageous how crimes are only considered crimes when the person committing them has a darker skin tone or belongs to a minority community.
Why wasn’t Estes’ face plastered all over the internet? Why didn’t his name trend on Twitter?
“The story didn’t go viral and Trump didn’t tweet about it because the bomb was not placed by an immigrant, or a Muslim, or a Mexican,” wrote Shaun King on The Intercept. “Sorry if it sounds like you’ve heard this story before. I’m as tired of writing it as you are reading it, but you know good and well that if Estes was a young Muslim — hell, if he had ever even visited a mosque in the past 25 years — that Trump would be tweeting about him right this very moment to tout how essential a Muslim ban is for American safety.”
The double standards and blatant white privilege in this case is just painful.
Estes is currently being held without bond at Buncombe County Detention Center in North Carolina.
Thumbnail/Banner: Buncombe County Detention Center