Terror plot suspect's friend shocked to hear accusations

2 months 1 day 9 hours ago February 21, 2017 Feb 21, 2017 Tuesday, February 21 2017 Tuesday, February 21, 2017 10:06:00 PM CST in News
By: Jamie Grey, KOMU 8 Managing Editor and Hanna Knutson, KOMU 8 Reporter
loading

COLUMBIA - When the FBI arrested terror suspect Robert Lorezo Hester, his friend and neighbor Analee Shatlain said she was over at his house. She was shocked to find out the crime he is accused of: Attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization.

"I was talking to his dad and two daughters. FBI swarmed the front door. We saw an officer up in the front. I was told to put my hands up and come out. Don't make any sudden movements," Shatlain said.

Friend: 'Very big shock to me'

According to court documents, Hester believed he was corresponding with ISIS members, but he was in fact talking to undercover agents. Shatlain said this image of a man with terrorist tendencies did not go along with who she has known.

"I talk to him on daily. It's not possible for me to even comprehend what's going on because they have always been such really good neighbors. Never cause trouble. Never had any altercations with them," Shatlain said.

Hester was born and raised in Missouri, and Shatlain described him as a family man.

"He's never ever done anything like this. He's always been such a family guy. He's always outside playing with kids and his wife is outside. He's always very talkative towards the neighbors. Anybody who walks up he's going to talk to you," Shatlain said.

Hester did spend ten days in jail in 2016, after police said he got in a fight with his wife in a store parking lot and threw a folded pocket knife through a window. When employees confronted him, court documents said he threatened them and reached into a bag. Police later found a handgun inside the bag.

Prosecutor: 'Intent to engage in acts of violent jihad'

In court documents, prosecutors alleged Hester converted to Islam and began creating social media posts with anti-American sentiment and Islamic terrorist sympathies, such as the ISIS flag. Those posts raised suspicion, and multiple people reported him in summer 2016.

With those reports, undercover agents began corresponding with Hester. According to the federal indictment, over time, Hester agreed to buy items that could be used to make explosives, such as roofing nails. The undercover agent described the intent to create an event "10 times more than the Boston Marathon bombing, and Hester expressed approval."

For Shatlain, the pieces don't add up.

"There was no way. He was in the Army. He probably has PTSD and a couple other problems with him, but I don't think he's capable of doing what he's being charged with," Shatlain said.

Court documents stated Hester was in the Army, enlisting in 2012. He went to basic training, where he received firearms and small-unit combat instruction. However, during his advanced individual training, he was cited for violating Army regulations. In 2013, he was discharged from service.

KOMU 8 News knocked on Hester's door Tuesday evening, and his father answered the door. He said he did not want to make any comments about his son. 

 

More News

Grid
List
FULTON - Fulton Police are investigating a body found. Fulton Police Chief Steve Myers believes the body could belong to... More >>
8 hours ago April 24, 2017 Apr 24, 2017 Monday, April 24 2017 Monday, April 24, 2017 9:19:00 PM CDT in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — Missouri senators have confirmed a former PricewaterhouseCoopers partner to be the state's next revenue director. ... More >>
8 hours ago April 24, 2017 Apr 24, 2017 Monday, April 24 2017 Monday, April 24, 2017 8:44:56 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA - Columbia Public School teachers could see a significant increase in salary for the coming school year. The... More >>
10 hours ago April 24, 2017 Apr 24, 2017 Monday, April 24 2017 Monday, April 24, 2017 7:22:00 PM CDT in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — A Missouri senator says he's moving out of a room he rents from a lobbyist following... More >>
10 hours ago April 24, 2017 Apr 24, 2017 Monday, April 24 2017 Monday, April 24, 2017 7:17:23 PM CDT in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — The Missouri House has passed stricter requirements for tracking fetal tissue after abortions. The... More >>
10 hours ago April 24, 2017 Apr 24, 2017 Monday, April 24 2017 Monday, April 24, 2017 7:13:00 PM CDT in News
MID-MISSOURI - There were 36 reported cases of salmonella in Mid-Missouri Monday, with the majority of cases reported out of... More >>
10 hours ago April 24, 2017 Apr 24, 2017 Monday, April 24 2017 Monday, April 24, 2017 7:04:00 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA - Columbia Public Works is requesting community members complete a survey on new markings for cyclists at intersections in... More >>
11 hours ago April 24, 2017 Apr 24, 2017 Monday, April 24 2017 Monday, April 24, 2017 6:40:00 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA - Wind, water and solar power are all elements that usually come to mind when the words 'renewable energy'... More >>
11 hours ago April 24, 2017 Apr 24, 2017 Monday, April 24 2017 Monday, April 24, 2017 6:02:00 PM CDT in News
COOPER COUNTY, Mo. - Two people died during a plane crash on Highway 98 near Boonville around 1:40 p.m Monday.... More >>
12 hours ago April 24, 2017 Apr 24, 2017 Monday, April 24 2017 Monday, April 24, 2017 5:03:00 PM CDT in News
ARGYLE - For years, the Rock Island rail line carried trains across Missouri, straight through towns like Eldon, Freeburg and... More >>
13 hours ago April 24, 2017 Apr 24, 2017 Monday, April 24 2017 Monday, April 24, 2017 3:50:00 PM CDT in News
KANSAS CITY (AP) — A teenager who was shot by a Kansas City store clerk who thought the boy was... More >>
14 hours ago April 24, 2017 Apr 24, 2017 Monday, April 24 2017 Monday, April 24, 2017 3:39:00 PM CDT in News
BOONVILLE- What began as a joke between two friends inspired an event that raised money and awareness for a... More >>
14 hours ago April 24, 2017 Apr 24, 2017 Monday, April 24 2017 Monday, April 24, 2017 2:49:00 PM CDT in Continuous News
BALLWIN, Mo. (AP) — St. Louis County authorities are investigating an apparent murder-suicide involving a couple in their 80s. ... More >>
15 hours ago April 24, 2017 Apr 24, 2017 Monday, April 24 2017 Monday, April 24, 2017 2:35:00 PM CDT in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Police say a 51-year-old St. Louis-area woman died while she was sleeping when she was struck... More >>
15 hours ago April 24, 2017 Apr 24, 2017 Monday, April 24 2017 Monday, April 24, 2017 2:29:00 PM CDT in News
EUREKA, Mo. (AP) — A Mexican wolf born this month at a wildlife center in suburban St. Louis is offering... More >>
15 hours ago April 24, 2017 Apr 24, 2017 Monday, April 24 2017 Monday, April 24, 2017 2:17:00 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA - The Boone County Community Services Department recently released its 2016 Annual Report and Program Directory, which highlights where... More >>
16 hours ago April 24, 2017 Apr 24, 2017 Monday, April 24 2017 Monday, April 24, 2017 1:34:00 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA - President Donald Trump's proposed spending plan for 2018 significantly reduces funding for a range of executive departments, from... More >>
17 hours ago April 24, 2017 Apr 24, 2017 Monday, April 24 2017 Monday, April 24, 2017 12:13:00 PM CDT in News
FULTON - Two men are on the run after assaulting a man in his home and stealing cash and other... More >>
18 hours ago April 24, 2017 Apr 24, 2017 Monday, April 24 2017 Monday, April 24, 2017 11:23:00 AM CDT in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 55°
6am 55°
7am 56°
8am 60°
9am 63°

Select a station to view its upcoming schedule:

Coming Up Next

5:00a
KOMU 8 News Today
6:00a
KOMU 8 News Today
7:00a
Today
5:30a
Paid Program
6:00a
King of the Hill
6:30a
King of the Hill

Tonight's Schedule

7:00p
The Voice
8:00p
Great News
8:30p
Great News
9:00p
Chicago Fire
7:00p
The Flash
8:00p
iZombie
9:00p
KOMU 8 News @ Nine on The CW
9:30p
Seinfeld