Terror investigators probe man charged in soldier paintball attack

Newly unsealed court documents show terrorism investigators are probing the background of a Waukesha County QAnon believer charged with allegedly shooting paintballs at soldiers outside an army facility in Pewaukee earlier this month.

Ian Olson

Ian Olson

Ian Olson, 31, of Nashotah, appeared by video before Federal Magistrate Judge Nancy Joseph Wednesday afternoon, March 31 for a preliminary hearing. The court found probable cause for the case to continue, according to online court records. Attorneys for Olson declined to comment.

Olson remains in custody in the Waukesha County jail pending trial in the federal case after federal prosecutors argued earlier this month Olson poses a serious risk to the safety of the community. This, after he allegedly said he would cause a "mass casualty" event if released from jail. Olson appeared before a Waukesha County judge last week for a bond hearing where the conditions of his $2,500 signature bond were modified.

Olson, a married father of two, was arrested after he was tackled by uniformed Army reservists standing in a parking lot of the US Army Reserve Center, 619 W. Wisconsin, in Pewaukee on March 15.

According to a criminal complaint filed in Milwaukee federal court, Olson got out of his vehicle – which is spray-painted with QAnon slogans – and shouted "This is for America" while carrying what appeared to be a rifle. It was an orange AR-15-style paintball gun. Olson allegedly shot two or three paintballs at the soldiers, who were about 15 yards away.

After the gun jammed, Olson said to the soldiers, "You’re lucky it jammed," and was then tackled by one of the reservists, who is a Waukesha County sheriff's deputy. He was held until the Village of Pewaukee Police Department arrived.

Inside Olson’s car, police found a gas mask, throwing knives, police scanner, two-way radios, taser, and ballistic military-style vest plates. Police also found a three-page, hand-written "manifesto," according to court filings -- with a number of comments referencing "Q" and "my plan."

QAnon is a convoluted, pro-Trump conspiracy theory centering on the baseless belief that the former president is waging a secret war against the so-called "deep state," and a child sex trafficking ring run by cannibals and satanic pedophiles.

After Olson's arrest on state charges, his wife allowed Pewaukee police to search their home. According to federal filings, officers found an AR-15 rifle with a scope, suppressor, and seven magazines loaded with green-tipped and possibly armor-piercing ammunition.

Olson was booked into the Waukesha County Jail on making terrorist threats, attempted battery, and disorderly conduct. He was charged with two counts of attempted battery and disorderly conduct, both misdemeanors, and released from custody on a $2,500 signature bond. Olson was arrested, again, after charges were filed in federal court.

During intake at the jail, Olson said he just returned from Washington, D.C., where he "attempted to deliver a message," according to federal court filings. His vehicle is spray painted with several QAnon slogans, as well as "OMW 2 DC" and "Trust My Plan."

Federal filings say Olson was in D.C. in early March and that on March 3, Olson approached a National Guardsman saying he was "maybe going to do something crazy stupid tomorrow," asking the soldiers to not shoot him. Some QAnon supporters believed the former president would be inaugurated in Washington on March 4.  A number of QAnon supporters have been arrested in connection to the pro-Trump insurrection at the US Capitol on January 6, including a man from northwestern Wisconsin.

A newly unsealed federal search warrant shows federal terrorism investigators are combing through Olson’s digital trail, seeking to understand his intent and whereabouts in Wisconsin, DC, who he may have associated or traveled with, looking for any possible "coconspirators."

"Olson’s actions in Washington, DC, and in Pewaukee, along with various written and oral comments described above, show that Olson has considered violence and, in fact, used violence against the military and others," wrote FBI Special Agent Justin Mosiman, who is assigned to the Joint Terrorism Task Force in Milwaukee, seeking to review Olson’s iPhone, three memory cards and a digital camera.

"Olson’s actions and comments, along with the items found in his vehicle, indicate that Olson has engaged in preparation, planning, and travel in furtherance of potential violent goals."

US Capitol Police stopped Olson, who said he wanted to "test the National Guard to see if they were loyal to the people or to the President" and that his actions would be big and he was "willing to die to fulfill this mission."

Olson also made other alarming statements to law enforcement at the time saying he would be "taken over by the Spirit of Christ and lead the people to unity," according to the criminal complaint. USCP found Olson to be a danger to himself and transported Olson for a psychiatric evaluation.

Olson, who has no prior criminal history, was admitted to a psych ward and released with medication.

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It’s unclear when Olson returned to Wisconsin. However, in a detention motion filed by federal prosecutors in Wisconsin, Olson made unsolicited comments at the Waukesha County Jail on March 15, saying he failed in sending his message in Washington, D.C., and said he would cause a mass casualty event when the gets out of jail. Olson refused to speak with a mental-health worker who visited him at the Waukesha County Jail.

Olson is due back before a Waukesha County judge for a hearing in late May; a date for his next appearance in federal court has not yet been set.

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