Keaun L. Cook, an 18-year-old teenager from Southern Illinois is behind bars. Authorities say, he was suspected to have allied himself with an unspecified terrorist group planned to attack at least one area location in Madison County. He was arrested on Wednesday.
During a press conference at the sheriff’s office in Edwardsville on Thursday, Madison County State’s Attorney Tom Gibbons and Madison County Sheriff John Lakin, confirmed Keaun L. Cook as a terror suspect, he is facing many charges. One count for material support for terrorism and one count for making a terrorist threat, both being class X felonies.
Lakin said, Police were alerted of the threat on August 24th after deputies were sent to Cook’s home for a welfare check. During this meeting with Cook and his family members, deputies were alerted and began linking evidence to Cook and individuals or groups they believed would be capable of committing a mass casualty terrorist attack. Federal authorities were deployed in to assist in the investigation.
Gibbons mentioned that the threat was verbal and Cook had been in communication with a terrorist organization via multiple electronic means.
Cook and the group were targeting at least three locations in the Madison County area, Gibbons said. He did not name the group Cook was in contact with.
“This is a circumstance where there was no room for error and no room for delay,” Gibbons said. “We as a community owe a great debt to the person who reported this.”
“Thanks to the individual who immediately alerted authorities of the actions of this man, and the serious response executed by the Madison County Sheriff’s Office, a potentially chaotic and deadly event in the area has been prevented,” Gibbons said. “My staff is working closely in coordination with the Sheriff’s Office, local law enforcement, and federal authorities to ensure that there is no further risk to the public.”
Gibbons quoted , “We stopped an incident that could have caused a serious situation,” Lakin said. He mentioned to the threat as “stalled,’ and said the investigation was in progress. “This was not something that was created overnight and it’s not going to be stopped in a flash,” he said.
“Had this situation not been stopped, this press conference would have been held in a wholly different situation.” commented Gibbons.
“I’m very proud to stand here today and say that we stopped an event that could have caused a very, very, very serious situation,” Lakin said.
Gibbons’ office said further details about the case cannot be revealed yet as it’s still under investigation
According to The Telegraph, following the arrest, Debra Thomas, the Grandmother of the accused hand-delivered two letters to The (Alton) Telegraph (http://bit.ly/2c7oq93 ) on Thursday. She stated that Cook suffers with paranoid schizophrenia and is “troubled” and “Untreated” for his mental illness. She said Cook had spent more than 300 days in an isolated confinement at a county detention center, during which his condition went untreated.
Debra wrote that after Cook got out of the detention center and returned home, she couldn’t force him to take his medication because he is 18 and an adult. She said she called the police, “not because that I felt a threat but because I knew that was the only way that I could get Keaun’s treatment.”
“When he’s on his medicine he is the sweetest person you know, when off like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” Thomas wrote, noting that she never would have involved the police if she thought it would have landed her grandson in jail.
Keaun L. Cook, faces 30 to 40 years in prison. Cook is being held at Madison County Jail in Edwardsville, his bail was set at $150,000.