Md. man charged in plot to kill pedestrians at National Harbor

Federal officials have charged a man who allegedly planned to drive a truck into a crowd at National Harbor in Maryland.

Rondell Henry, 28, of Germantown, Maryland, plotted to drive a stolen U-Haul truck into pedestrians at the popular tourist spot in Prince George’s County, Maryland, according to federal prosecutors.

Henry was inspired by the Islamic State and planned to use the truck as a weapon against “disbelievers,” authorities said.

Henry had been reported missing by the Montgomery County Police Department on March 26 when he walked away from his job. His co-workers were the last people to see him that day, and his family was unable to get in touch with him.

On the same day that he was reported missing, Henry allegedly stole a rented U-Haul in Alexandria, Virginia, leaving his own BMW behind in the process. He allegedly recognized that his car was not large enough to cause the level of damage that he wanted, so he then drove around the area looking for a large vehicle to steal, according to the prosecutor’s filing.

The original driver of the van reported being followed by a blue BMW, and the vehicle was found not far from where the van was taken. Police checked the registration of the car and tracked it back to Henry.

At 5 a.m. on March 27, Henry drove the van to Dulles International Airport in Virginia and attempted to find a way through security, said prosecutors, who alleged Henry was looking to kill pedestrians “in a way designed for maximum publicity.”

After two hours of failing to get past security at Dulles, Henry took the van to National Harbor, where they said he parked it and walked around. Henry allegedly changed his plans to drive into pedestrians when saw the low crowd size.

Henry then broke into a boat to hide in overnight while waiting for larger crowds, according to the prosecutor’s filing.

The following morning, police found the stolen U-Haul parked at National Harbor. Prince George’s police officers saw Henry jumping over a security fence and arrested him.

Prince George’s County police chief Hank Stawinkski said that the arresting officers were able to establish that this case was more than just a stolen vehicle and that Henry represented a broader threat to the community.

“It’s about going beyond what’s apparent and asking ‘is there more going on here than we’re aware of?'” Stawinski said.

A similar attack was carried out in Nice, France, when a man in a large truck drove into crowds celebrating Bastille Day in 2016, killing 86 people and injuring hundreds. Another was carried out in New York City in 2017 that left eight dead and injured nearly a dozen.

Henry was inspired by attacks like these after watching videos of them online and “harbored hatred for those who do not practice the Muslim faith,” according to prosecutors.

In a Mirandized statement, Henry said he was determined to keep going until he saw an opportunity to attack, according to the filing documents.

“I was just going to keep driving and driving and driving. I wasn’t going to stop,” Henry said.

Henry was charged with transporting a stolen vehicle across state lines. Henry will appear at a detention hearing Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt, Maryland. If convicted, Henry could face up to 10 years in prison.

A motion to detain Henry ahead of his trial has been filed. The motion argues that Henry is a flight risk and danger to the community.

ABC News and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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