Phoenix Man Sentenced Gets 15 years for plot to release radioactive material in Arizona

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Radioactive waste yellow barrels with radioactive symbol, isolated on white background. Nuclear waste in barrels. 3d rendering illustration

PHOENIX, ARIZONA – Jared Trent Atkins, 27, of Phoenix, Arizona, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge John J. Tuchi to 15 years in prison, followed by twelve years of supervised release. Atkins previously pleaded guilty to attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction.

In the early morning hours of April 28, 2019, Atkins entered a gas station in Phoenix, Arizona, and stabbed the night clerk working inside. Atkins then fled the gas station and drove to his place of employment, where he stole three radiological devices containing Iridium-192 along with the tools to open the devices and expose the radiological material.  Approximately one hour after the stabbing and theft, Atkins set fire to a vehicle at a Mesa car dealership.

Atkins texted his co-workers to inform them he had the radiological devices. He warned his co-workers to stay home until the devices were found. Security footage from Scottsdale Fashion Square Mall shows Atkins driving on Camelback Road adjacent to the Mall. Atkins later told the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) he intended to have a “last stand” and considered conducting it at the Mall.

Atkins then drove to Mt. Ord in the Payson area and called his family to say goodbye.  Atkins opened one of the radiological devices. Atkins planned to commit suicide by irradiation, knowing he would harm anyone who tried to stop or arrest him. For unknown reasons, however, Atkins closed the radiological device and returned to Phoenix.


Later the same morning, Atkins drove back to his apartment, with the radiological devices and the bloody knife he used to stab the gas station clerk. The Phoenix Police Department and FBI agents responded to the scene, but Atkins barricaded himself inside his apartment. After roughly two hours of a standoff and working with a negotiator, Atkins agreed to surrender and was taken into custody without further incident. Law enforcement safely recovered all three radiological devices, including all stolen radiological material, from Atkins’s vehicle.

On April 28, 2019, Atkins was arrested on state charges in Maricopa County. He subsequently pleaded guilty to Aggravated Assault and Arson of Property, and was sentenced to three and a half years in prison. Atkins’s federal sentence will run consecutive to his state sentence.

“Today’s sentence sends a powerful message of deterrence to would-be criminal actors who plan to weaponize industrial technologies,” said Acting United States Attorney Anthony Martin. “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.”

“This case is a prime example of how the FBI and our partners come together to keep our communities safe,” said Sean Kaul, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Phoenix Field Office. “From beginning to end, this investigation was truly a team effort. I commend the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force and the Phoenix Police Department, which did significant work on this investigation from the day of the incident, to the weeks, and months that followed. I also commend the Phoenix Stabilization Task Force members, who played an important role in this case by finding and successfully securing the radiological material.”

The FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force and the Phoenix Police Department investigated the case, with support and assistance from the FBI Phoenix Stabilization Task Force, Laboratory, and Intelligence Analysts.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kristen Brook of the District of Arizona, and Celeste Corlette and Jason Denney of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.

CASE NUMBER:        CR-20-00344-PHX-JTT
RELEASE NUMBER: 2021-112_Atkins

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