Attempted Bombing Suspect's Friend: He Needs Help, Not Jail Time

Tuesday, August 15th 2017, 7:58 pm

The best friend of the man accused of plotting to blow up a bank in downtown Oklahoma City says the suspect needs help, not prison time.

Federal agents say Jerry Drake Varnell of Sayre planned to level the BancFirst building with the same kind of bomb Timothy McVeigh used in 1995. But his best friend, Deja Dumas,  says there's more to the story.

Dumas got a text from Varnell, her lifelong friend, just hours before he was picked up. He wanted to get together. She ignored the text. Now that she knows what he's accused of she wishes she hadn't.  

"Honestly, instantly where I was that just broke out in tears. Because that the way they were describing him is not the person I know," Dumas said.

Federal investigators say Varnell got inert bomb-making materials from a paid FBI informant and planned the explosion. They say he was a government hating extremist. But Dumas says he was just a young man battling schizophrenia and drug addiction. She thinks the FBI could have handled this differently.   

"Who gives somebody with a documented mental illness the tools to do something like this, whether it was real or not? ‘Oh we just wanted to see how far he'd take it.’ He's sick. Ain't no telling how far he's going to take it," Dumas said.

Dumas says the things people are saying about Varnell - that he's some kind of a monster - just aren't true.

"People are like, white supremacist, domestic terrorist. These are not words that I used to correlate with him. He is smart and he's funny and kind."

Dumas says she wishes she could talk to her friend just one more time.

"I want to tell him that I love him and that I hope he makes it through this ok. And every second of every day I am rooting for him."