Feds: Neo-Nazi plot targeted civilians, nukes and synagogues
Federal prosecutors say a neo-Nazi arrested after agents found bomb-making materials in his Florida apartment while investigating the slayings of his two roommates because they disrespected his conversion to Islam, planned to use the explosives to harm civilians, nuclear facilities and synagogues.
Federal prosecutors said a neo-Nazi arrested after agents found bomb-making materials in his Florida apartment while investigating the slayings of his two roommates planned to use the explosives to harm civilians, nuclear facilities and synagogues.
Court documents filed Monday say a third roommate arrested in the killings told authorities that 21-year-old Brandon Russell had been targeting the sites.
The murder suspect, Devon Arthurs, was arrested last month after telling police he fatally shot 22-year-old Jeremy Himmelman and 18-year-old Andrew Oneschuk because they were neo-Nazis who disrespected his recent conversion to Islam.
Arthurs told police Russell was not involved in the shootings, but that he was planning a bombing.
The documents also stated that police found two rifles, hundreds of rounds of ammunition and a skull mask in Russell's car.
Russell admitted to making the HMTD, but claimed he had been a member of a college engineering club and that the substance was for "setting off model rockets and balloons," the documents stated. Agents said they found nothing related to rockets in the apartment.
On May 20, after speaking with authorities, Russell said he wanted to leave town and visit his father in Palm Beach and left the Tampa area while an arrest warrant was being prepared. Contacted by law enforcement, his family said they hadn't heard from him.
Russell had picked up a friend, another self-described neo-Nazi, William James Tschantre, 20, who was identified in a Monroe County Sheriff's Office report. Tsanchtre told the agents that he grabbed his life savings, $3,000, quit his job and left with Russell.
The pair told agents they stopped at a sporting goods store and purchased rifles and ammunition before heading south.
"According to Russell's friend, they had no specific destination in mind and had no plans to hurt anyone or do any harm," the court documents state.
The next morning, Russell was arrested by Monroe County sheriff's deputies at a Burger King in Key Largo after the FBI had issued a "be on the lookout" advisory. In his car, according to court filings, they found two rifles, hundreds of rounds of ammunition, binoculars and a skull mask.
In arguing for his bond, which was granted by the court pending a decision on the details of his release, Russell stated that the rifles and ammunition he purchased could be used for hunting. His attorney, Ian Goldstein, said he would comment after a hearing the judge scheduled for Tuesday afternoon to announce the conditions of Russell's release.
Prosecutors have asked the court to reconsider, arguing that Russell's bomb-making materials and flight were cause enough to keep him behind bars. Russell is charged with unlawful storage of explosive materials and possessing a destructive device and unregistered firearm.
"Detonating this type of bomb could easily cause a vehicle to explode, killing all of the occupants and causing grave damage within a large distance around the explosion site," Acting U.S. Attorney W. Stephen Muldrow wrote.