DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – A Wayne County judge has ordered a competency hearing for a mentally ill Vietnam War veteran accused of planning to attack a Dearborn mosque with fireworks.
Sixty-three-year-old Roger Stockham could stand trial on terrorism and explosives charges for allegedly plotting to detonate powerful fireworks at the Islamic Center of America.
Wayne County Circuit Judge Bruce Morrow ordered the competency hearing after learning the 63-year-old sent a letter to the center last week.
Defense attorney Matthew Evans says Stockham’s letter was a “rant” but didn’t threaten violence.
Stockham was arrested in January outside the Islamic Center of America wearing a ski mask, after he had mentioned an explosion while talking with someone he met in a bar.
Evans said his client meant no harm.
“What he meant was that this was going to be a big event, perhaps like a force, an explosive tale, you know, that’s what he was talking about. In the guy’s statement he even said that he was just going to go there to do some graffiti,” Evans said.
The Imperial Beach, California resident said he planned to write graffiti on the mosque over his concern about claims that a U.S. helicopter pilot shot civilians in Iraq, according to his attorney.
When Stockham was arrested, police found powerful illegal fireworks in his car. Prosecutors allege Stockham, who has been in and out of jail and psychiatric hospitals for decades, was planning to attack the mosque, but was caught before he could do it.
“There was no doubt he wanted to get some attention, but he didn’t even have any matches with him when they arrested him, or a lighter,” Evans said.
Evans said the ski mask should not be taken as an indication of ill-intent.
“It was cold. He’s from California so he’s not used to this weather. So, you know, this happened in January, so he had the ski mask. When they actually pulled him over, he had taken it off,” Evans said.
Stockham, who is a Muslim convert, maintains he only meant to protest the Iraq War to fellow Muslims.
Stockham is charged with making a false report or threat of terrorism and possessing explosives with unlawful intent.
He has several prior convictions and suffers from bipolar and post-traumatic stress disorders.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.