Pope Francis Assassination: US Teen Admits Guilt For Plotting To Kill Pontiff During His Philadelphia Visit
A teenager from New Jersey admitted he plotted to kill Pope Francis during the pontiff's visit to Philadelphia in September 2015. Santos Colon Jr., 17, who is from Lindenwold, New Jersey, entered a plea of guilty when he faced the Camden federal court Monday.
Colon admitted it took him two months to plan Pope Francis' assassination. He hired a sniper to carry out the job and expected the sniper to purchase the weapons and explosives.
The plan was to set off bombs and gun down the pope as he said public mass. Only, there was one problem — the sniper Colon hired was an undercover FBI agent who foiled his plans. Authorities arrested the 17-year-old just 12 days after Pope Francis' arrival, as per Catholic Online.
"Colon engaged in target reconnaissance with an FBI confidential source and instructed the source to purchase materials to make explosive devices," prosecutors revealed, as per Reuters. Various reports stated Colon plotted the assassination as a gesture of his support for the ISIS but prosecutors said they cannot confirm this as his motivation. The Islamic State wasn't mentioned in the court records on his guilty plea.
Prosecutors tried Colon in court as an adult even as he committed the crime as a minor. He could likely face a 15-year prison time and a $250,000 fine. The court has yet to set a date for the sentencing.
Before his arrest, FBI agents issued a bulletin on August 2015 stating the ISIS connection. "The minor was inspired by [ISIS] and sought to conduct a detailed homeland attack which included multiple attackers, firearms, and multiple explosives, targeting a foreign dignitary at a high-profile event," the FBI, along with Homeland Security cited, as per ABC News. Sources stated, however, Colon might have mental health issues as well.
Pope Francis visited Philadelphia and Washington D.C. for the World Meeting of Families. Kenneth Gavin of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia issued a statement following Colon's arraignment thanking authorities for ensuring Pope Francis' safety in the U.S. that September.