Arizona man wanted to start 'race war' with mass shooting at Atlanta concert: DOJ

Authorities say they uncovered an Arizona man's plot to shoot and possibly kill African Americans and other minorities at a concert at Atlanta's State Farm Arena.

On Tuesday, a federal grand jury indicted 58-year-old Mark Adams Prieto of Prescott on charges of firearms trafficking, transfer of a firearm for use in a hate crime, and possession of an unregistered firearm.

According to the indictment, between January and May 2024, Prieto had been in discussions with two people who were secretly working with the Federal Bureau of Investigations to plan a mass shooting at the Atlanta venue in May.

While authorities do not say what concert, the dates provided in the indictment are the same as two nights of performances by the popular singer Bad Bunny at the venue.

Mark Prieto (U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Arizona)

Arizona man's alleged plan to incite ‘race war’

Officials say their investigation began when Prieto told a man at a gun show that he wanted "to incite a race war prior to the 2024 United States Presidential Election."

Prieto, a vendor at the Crossroads of the West gun shows in his hometown, allegedly would trade his personal firearms, using cash deals to avoid any interference from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives.

On Jan. 21, officials say Prieto discussed with the source and an undercover FBI agent that he wanted them to help him carry out a shooting at a rap concert in Atlanta, specifically targeting the city because of its Black population.

Shots of Mark Prieto's booth at a gun show (U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Arizona)

As reported by the indictment, Prieto said he wanted to target a rap concert because "there would be a high concentration of African Americans" and planned to leave confederate flags after the violence and to shout phrases like "KKK all the way."

After discussing the attack multiple times, officials say he sold one of the men rifles multiple times.

Prieto's arrest in New Mexico

On May 14, law enforcement pulled Prieto over on a New Mexico interstate. He was found to have seven firearms. A search of his home later led officers to find more firearms, including an unregistered short-barreled rifle.

During questioning, officials say Prieto admitted to discussing an attack but said that he was traveling to visit his mother in Florida and not going to Atlanta. He also reportedly admitted to selling an AR-15 to the FBI agent and telling him that it "would be a good gun to use in the attack."

If convicted, Prieto could face up to 15 years in prison for each charge of firearms trafficking and transfer of a firearm for use in a hate crime and up to 10 years for having an unregistered firearm. He also could be fined up to $250,000 for each charge.