GREENWOOD, Ind. (WISH) — The U.S. Attorneys office is moving forward with charging a man who police arrested near the Greenwood Park Mall in August. Investigators initially suspected Christopher Byrne of planning a domestic terrorism plot. Now, authorities believe Byrne was on a mission to kill law enforcement.
Federal prosecutors charged Byrne with one count of possession of a firearm and additional rounds of ammunition as a convicted felon. A federal charge means potentially more prison time, which comes as a relief to law enforcement in Johnson County, as they believe they were his target.
Byrne was on an apparent mission to kill the judge assigned to his case, Greenwood police officers, and prosecutors according to Johnson County Deputy Prosecutor Rob Seet. Byrne later targeted Seet as well.
“After the media coverage, he started railing against me in his jail calls and saying nasty things about me and my family,” Seet explained.
Seet said in one of those calls, Byrne wished a “miserable death” upon Seet and his family.
“Instead of thinking about how he needs to change his ways, he’s lashing out at the authorities. He’s lashing out at the cops and the prosecutors. Because, God forbid, he be held responsible for what he did,” said Seet.
Last week, the judge assigned to Byrne’s case withdrew after police say they discovered he researched her home address prior to his arrest.
“We just knew based on monitoring some of his jail calls and just based on the circumstances of this case, we knew there as something more there,” said Seet.
Police pulled Byrne over near the Greenwood Park Mall last summer on August 15. They say he had a fictitious license plate, a rifle with a silencer and scope, several rounds of ammunition and bomb making chemicals. Initially investigators believed he was planning a terrorist attack, likely at the mall. However, since then, Seet said new evidence suggest he was after law enforcement instead.
“We just want to make sure for the protection of our community, that we expose him to as much time as possible,” said Seet.
Byrne has had several run ins with the law. He was convicted of theft after investigators found a police rifle in his apartment. That rifle was reported stolen after it was taken from a police cruiser. The vehicle was set on fire.
Byrne also faces state charges for carrying a handgun without a license while being a convicted felon and an additional charge for being a habitual traffic offender. His sentencing hearing is set for Friday February 10 at 1:15 in Johnson County Superior Court 2.
Byrne faces up to six years in prison on his state charges. After sentencing, his case will be handed over to federal authorities.