A Georgia prosecutor described the apparent targeting of a mysterious monument with an explosive device as an “act of domestic terrorism,” saying Thursday that the alleged crime was aimed at the county authorities that own the site.
“The destruction of a public building by explosive is inherently intended to influence the actions of the governing authority that owns the structure,” Parks White, the Northern Judicial Circuit district attorney, said in an email about the Wednesday explosion of the Georgia Guidestones.
“The use of violence to sway or alter the behavior of any government agency is terrorism,” said White, whose office would handle a potential prosecution.
The Elbert County Board of Commissioners is the site’s governing authority, he said.
No suspect has been identified in the case. In a statement Wednesday, White said the Georgia Bureau of Investigation has “many” leads in its probe of the explosion and “a case is being made against the perpetrator.”
The agency released new surveillance video Thursday showing what it described as an unknown person leaving the device at the site in northeastern Georgia. The explosion occurred around 4 a.m. Wednesday.
The agency said one of five massive granite slabs — which are engraved with messages about the conservation of humanity — was destroyed in the explosion. The entire structure was demolished after authorities determined the weakened monument was unsafe for investigators, the agency said.
The agency described the probe as active and ongoing.
The monument — dubbed “America’s Stonehenge” — was unveiled on five acres of farmland in 1980. It was planned by an anonymous group that lived outside of Georgia and described themselves as a “loyal Americans who believe in God,” according to an account of the site’s origins on the Elbert County Chamber of Commerce’s website.
The group wanted to leave messages for future generations, the account says. According to a lengthy story about the site published by Wired in 2009, the Guidestones functioned as a clock, calendar and compass, and those messages — engraved in eight languages — were intended to function as a post-apocalyptic guide for survivors.
That guidance included keeping the planet’s population under 500 million “in perpetual balance with nature” and creating a “living new language” to unite humanity.
According to the Wired account, the site had previously been targeted with spray-painted messages, including “Jesus will beat u satanist” and “No one world government.”
A recent Republican gubernatorial candidate, Kandiss Taylor, pledged to turn the monument “to dust” if elected. She placed third in the state’s May 24 primary. In a tweet Wednesday, she said she believed God struck down “the Satanic Guidestones.”
In a separate video, Taylor said she didn’t support demolishing the monument through extra-legal means and added that the person behind the explosion “should be brought to justice.”
In his statement Wednesday, White said that “regardless of your feelings about the origin of the Guide Stones, their meaning, or the intention of the person who commissioned and erected them, they are a historical landmark, and this destructive act was an assault upon our community.”
Tim Stelloh is a breaking news reporter for NBC News Digital.