Friends and acquaintances knew him as Scott Crawford, a devoted husband and father of three with strong religious convictions.
Born in Schenectady, he grew up on a farm in Charlton, graduated from Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake High School and became an engine mechanic — a trade that landed him a job at the General Electric Co. He served in the U.S. Navy Reserve, volunteered with a fire company and was a faithful member of the Barkersville Christian Church in Providence, where he was listed as a member of the parish worship team.
Some say he distrusted the federal government, and politically, he aligned himself with the Tea Party Patriots, a grass-roots group aligned with conservative and libertarian ideals.
But nothing about him suggested he was allegedly planning something terrible. Nothing indicated he was allegedly in the process of creating a device designed to stealthily kill from afar.
“This is a huge shock to our church,” said Patricia Atwell, the pastor of Barkersville
Federal investigators describe 49-year-old Glendon Scott Crawford as a man driven by his hatred for Muslims and with a relentless pursuit to silently harm them from afar. They describe a member of the United Northern and Southern Knights of the Ku Klux Klan who was on the verge of creating a weapon that would have allowed him to act on his deep-seated hatred.
Crawford and alleged co-conspirator Eric Feight, 54, of Hudson are each facing one count of conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists, a charge that could land them as much as 15 years in federal prison. The charge stems from Crawford’s alleged scheme to create a lethal X-ray device that could be mounted in a van or truck and activated remotely from nearly a half-mile away.
FBI investigators tracked Crawford through his contact with undercover agents posing as people sympathetic to his cause and others who assisted him over the course of 14 months. They claim the two men were able to draw up a schematic and assemble parts to create a system that would have caused injury at a minimum, perhaps even death.
Crawford even selected several targets where the lethal device could be activated. Earlier this week, he brought undercover agents to a mosque in Albany and an Islamic center in Schenectady, where he suggested it could be deployed.
“It’s indeed scary,” said John Duncan, an assistant U.S. attorney. “This is a highly unusual case and one we hope we never see again.”
Crawford was taken into custody inside a vacant garage in Schagticoke as he was powering up the X-ray device Tuesday afternoon. His arrest came as a shock to many, both those who knew him well and others who were only acquaintances.
In a statement she read Friday, Atwell said her congregation only learned of Crawford’s actions through the media and described the role of her church as “a place of healing, not harm.” She said the church intends to stand by Crawford’s family in their time of need, but “neither endorses nor supports any actions as those listed in the charges against him.”
“We affirm our teachings that each person is responsible before the Lord for their own personal actions in response to the laws of the land and the written laws of God,” she said. “Therefore we will have no further comment on the charges and leave the handling of these matters to those who are in authority and to God.”
Angela Crawford and other members of the family declined to talk to the media following her husband’s detention hearing, where he was ordered held without bail. Instead, she released a succinct statement on behalf of the family.
“Our family has love and support for Glendon [and] we are grateful for the outpouring of support we have received from our family, friends and church,” the statement reads.
Officials with General Electric declined to discuss any details of Crawford’s employment, aside from his suspension after his arrest.
Crawford was among 1,259 plaintiffs from 58 counties in a pro se lawsuit challenging New York’s SAFE Act, the gun control legislation pushed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in January. Bob Schulz, the Queensbury man who started the case in February, said he never had any interaction with Crawford or many of the other people who signed on.
People joining the lawsuit had to sign a document before a notary asserting themselves as a state resident age 18 or older who had read and agreed with the complaint. Schulz said Crawford joined many others disgruntled with the way the law was adopted.
“He signed on along with a lot of other people, so it’s a coincidence,” he said. “But what he was charged with is weird. It’s bizarre.”
Crawford was also among a group opposing United Nations Agenda 21, a set of “smart growth” and “sustainable development” principles adopted at a U.N. conference in 1992. In February, he praised the Charlton Town Board for adopting a resolution opposing the draft Capital Region Sustainability Plan — something some believed to be linked to Agenda 21.
Sandra Verola, a board member who helped pass the resolution, recognized Crawford in the crowd. Though she didn’t know him well, she spoke with him intermittently when he worked at a local service station more than a decade ago.
She had conversations with him about his mistrust for the Federal Reserve and government wrongdoing. But never once did she suspect he was planning the type of scheme outlined by federal investigators.
“I never ever got an indication that Scott would be prone to doing something violent,” she said.