‘Black Lives Don’t Matter!’: Hateful Arizona Man Planned Mass Shooting of Black People at Atlanta Rap Concert to Kick Off Race War, Feds Say

Mark Adams Prieto believed he had the perfect plan to commit a mass shooting of Black people at an Atlanta rap concert in order to start a race war before the 2020 presidential election, authorities say.

Believing that martial law would be implemented after the election, the 58-year-old gun dealer from Arizona had recruited two other men for his plan, explaining they would travel to Atlanta before the concert to stash the weapons in a hiding place so they would not have to travel with the weapons on the days prior to the concert.

He also informed them that they would all wear gloves to prevent leaving fingerprints and that they would also destroy the weapons after the shooting by burning them to leave no trace. 

Hateful Arizona Man Wanted to Incite Race War with Mass Shooting of Black People at Atlanta Concert Until the FBI Foiled His Plan
Mark Adams Prieto (Photo: U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Arizona)

But his plan fell apart when it turned out his two accomplices were working against him, including a confidential informant and an undercover FBI agent, gathering enough evidence to arrest him on federal gun charges, according to the criminal complaint filed in the United States District Court in Arizona.

On Tuesday, a federal grand jury indicted Prieto on firearms trafficking, transfer of a firearm for use in a hate crime, and possession of an unregistered firearm. He is facing decades in prison.

According to the United States Attorney’s Office in Arizona, “Each conviction for Firearms Trafficking and Transfer of Firearm for Use in a Hate Crime carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison, a fine of $250,000, or both. A conviction for Possession of an Unregistered Firearm carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, a fine of $250,000, or both.”

The indictment comes nearly a month after Prieto was arrested while driving eastbound on an interstate in New Mexico. He had told his accomplices that he was driving to Atlanta to conduct surveillance of the State Farm Arena, where he had planned to conduct the shooting at an event that was not yet determined. 

Prieto was arrested with seven firearms in his car, according to the press release issued by the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Federal agents later found more firearms at his home in Prescott, Arizona, including an “unregistered short barrel rifle.” 

He admitted to discussing the mass shooting with the two other men but also said he was not planning on going along with it. He also told law enforcement officers he was not headed to Atlanta but to Florida to visit his mother.

The FBI began investigating Prieto in October 2023 after receiving information from a confidential informant. The informant had met Prieto at the Crossroads of the West gun show in Prescott, where they were both firearm vendors. They quickly learned he was using another name to sell the guns, but federal agents have not made that name public.

The informant told federal agents that Prieto preferred selling his guns “off the books,” either with cash or trade-in, to avoid sales being documented by the federal Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

As Prieto became more comfortable with the informant, he began recruiting him for his plan to kill as many “Blacks, Jews or Muslims” as possible. But Black people were his main targets, which is why he wanted to conduct the mass shooting at a rap concert in the Georgia capital.

The informant introduced Prieto to an undercover FBI agent, whom Prieto also recruited to participate in the mass shooting.

According to a recorded conversation with the two men, Prieto said, “The reason I say Atlanta. Why, why is Georgia such a f–ked up state now? When I was a kid, that was one of the most conservative states in the country. Why is it not now? Because as the crime got worse in L.A., St. Louis and all these other cities, all the n-ggers moved out of those (places) and moved to Atlanta. That is why it isn’t so great anymore.”

Prieto’s plan also required them to yell out “KKK all the way” and “Black lives don’t matter, white lives matter” during the shooting. And they were also to leave Confederate flags at the location to fully drive their message through.

“We’re going to fight back now, and every whitey across the country will be the enemy,” he told the two men.

He also stressed that it was important to show “no mercy, no quarter” because he believed Black people “can’t have any feeling, they’re not people, they are monsters as far as I’m concerned.”

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