Hinesville's mayor said townsfolk should not worry about the integrity of nearby Fort Stewart or the Army in general. Jim Thomas feels the discovery and arrest of a handful of soldiers plotting against the government does not reflect the patriotism of the entire force.
"It is disturbing to hear about what they had and what they planned," Thomas stated. "But these troubled individuals don't represent all soldiers. They are an aberration."
In lunchtime places such as Poole's, people agreed.
"In any situation, you can have one bad apple," added Douglas Carter.
"It is unnerving, but it can be found in any profession," noted Sandra Frye. "That's why you hope commanders see the signs and take action."
A Fort Stewart spokesperson stated military investigators feel they've identified any and all members of FEAR and do not believe the installation has a gang or militia problem.
A spokesperson for the FBI said they could not clarify or comment on details of the case due to pending prosecution by the state of Georgia.
In Superior Court in Long County on Monday, Pfc. Michael Burnett pleaded guilty to lesser charges in the murders of Michael Roark and his girlfriend, Tiffany York. Prosecutors detailed that Burnett, Roark and at least three more soldiers were part of a militia group that had stockpiled guns, bombs and planned to seize parts of Fort Stewart and help overthrow the federal government. Burnett, who pleaded guilty to manslaughter, claimed leaders of the group feared Roark would leave the group and expose them when he left the Army.
Prosecutors asserted one of the murder suspects, Pvt. Isaac Aguigui, founded the organization he called FEAR and recruited soldiers to join on the principle they would depose the federal government and return power to the American people.
Aguigui and the other two remaining suspects will be in court Thursday in Ludowici.