Man Receives Sentence After He Plotted to Release Radiological Materials in Arizona


An Arizona man who pleaded guilty to attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction has been sentenced to 15 years in federal prison.

Jared Trent Atkins, now 27, began a string of crimes in April 2019 by stabbing a night clerk at a Shell gas station in Phoenix, according to a news release Thursday from the U.S. Department of Justice announcing his sentence.

After fleeing the scene, Atkins drove to his workplace — Western Technologies Inc., according to the Arizona Republic — where he stole three radiological devices containing Iridium-192 and the tools to open the devices, the news release said.

The International Atomic Energy Agency defines Iridium-192 as a “category-2 radioactive substance,” according to Live Science, which said, “This means the substance can permanently injure a person who handles the radioactive material for minutes to hours, and it can kill people in close proximity within hours to days, according to the agency.”

One hour after the stabbing and the theft, Atkins set fire to a vehicle at a Mesa car dealership, according to the DOJ news release.

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He also texted his co-workers to tell them that he had stolen the radiological devices, the release said.

“There’s no easy [way] to say this guys, I have snapped. I have three sources. Stay home ’til they are found,” the suspect wrote, according to the Republic.

Atkins was planning to release the radiological materials in Scottsdale and Payson, according to a tweet Thursday from the FBI’s Phoenix office.

The DOJ news release said a security camera caught Atkins driving on Camelback Road near the Scottsdale Fashion Square Mall, where he later told the FBI he intended to have his “last stand.”

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Instead, Atkins decided to drive to Mount Ord south of Payson, where he called his family to say goodbye, the release said. He was planning to open one of the devices and commit suicide by irradiation.

After opening one of the radiological devices, however, he closed it and drove back to his apartment in Phoenix.

Atkins barricaded himself inside his apartment with the radiological devices and the knife he used to stab the gas station clerk, according to the DOJ release.

While the Phoenix Police Department and FBI agents were able to contain Atkins inside his residence, he would not surrender until roughly two hours later.

Once the standoff concluded, the police took Atkins into custody without incident.

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KNXV-TV reported that authorities safely recovered all stolen materials from the suspect’s vehicle and that police said that no significant injuries resulted from the incidents.

The gas station clerk was “transported to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries,” the report said.

Atkins was arrested on state charges in Maricopa County in 2019 and pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and property arson, The Associated Press reported.

He was sentenced to 3½ years in prison, which he will serve consecutively with his federal prison term, the report said.

Anthony Martin, acting U.S. attorney for the District of Arizona, said in a statement that Atkins’ sentence “sends a powerful message of deterrence to would-be criminal actors who plan to weaponize industrial technologies.”

“As was done in this case, we stand ready to work alongside our federal and state partners to respond quickly to any threats to public safety,” he said.

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Samantha Kamman is an associate staff writer for The Western Journal. She has been published in several media outlets, including Live Action News and the Washington Examiner.
Samantha Kamman is an associate staff writer for The Western Journal. She has been published in several media outlets, including Live Action News and the Washington Examiner.