Psychiatric evaluation ordered for Conway man accused of plotting racial attack


CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – A judge has ordered a psychiatric evaluation for the man FBI agents allege bought a gun to carry out a racially-motivated attack earlier this year.

The judge wants examiners to give an opinion as to whether McDowell was insane at the time of his alleged crime and whether he’s mentally competent for trial, court documents say.

The documents state attorneys for Benjamin McDowell requested the evaluation earlier this month, citing his history of mental health problems including diagnoses for Schizoaffective Disorder and Bi-Polar Disorder. McDowell was also classified as “educable mentally disabled” and was placed in special education classes.

A continuance in the case was granted in late May after lawyers cited mental health questions and thousands of pages of new documents related to the case.

McDowell was charged with felon in possession of a firearm in February after he bought a gun from an undercover FBI agent. Though he was only charged for having the gun, documents from the FBI report McDowell  told an agent he wanted to “do something on a f****** big scale and write on the f****** building or whatever, ‘In the spirit of Dylann Roof.’”

In September, the warden for the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York requested an additional 30 days to prepare a thorough report on McDowell. On September 15, a judge granted the 30 day extension for the evaluation.