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FBI arrests 'violent extremists' after threatening posters sent to minorities, journalist

Mike Carter, The Seattle Times on

Published in News & Features

SEATTLE -- The FBI has arrested four people described by the agency as "violent extremists" with ties to the neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen Division after an investigation into threats mailed to people in Washington including a journalist and racial and religious minorities.

The complaint names Cameron Brandon Shea, 24, of Redmond, Wash., described as a primary recruiter for the domestic terrorist organization; Kaleb Cole, 24, of Montgomery, Texas; Taylor Ashley Parker-Dipeppe, 20, of Spring Hill, Fla.; and Johnny Roman Garza, 20, of Queen Creek, Ariz. All were taken into custody Tuesday or Wednesday.

All are charged with a single count of conspiracy to mail threatening communications and commit cyberstalking, an offense that carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

Shea was arrested in Seattle. He appeared Wednesday afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mary Alice Theiler and will be held in custody pending a March 11 preliminary hearing. The heavily bearded Shea, clad in an olive jumpsuit and flanked by deputy U.S. Marshals, did not speak during the brief hearing. Greg Murphy, his appointed federal public defender, declined to comment.

The other men were taken into custody in Florida, Texas and Arizona. They will be extradited to Washington for trial, said U.S. Attorney Brian Moran.

The charges allege Cole, who lived in Washington before moving to Texas, is a co-leader of Atomwaffen Division, deemed one of the most violent and dangerous domestic terrorist groups. He is currently facing gun charges in King County.

 

The charges allege that members of Atomwaffen -- German for "Atomic Weapon" -- had mounted an intimidation campaign against at least one local television journalist and two activists associated with the Anti-Defamation League. Posters containing swastikas, skulls and threats like "We know where you live" were sent to their home addresses.

The complaint states that on Jan. 25, Garza and another individual were followed to an apartment complex in Phoenix, where a member of the Arizona Association of Black Journalists resided, and then proceeded to the home of the editor of a local Jewish publication. The two men were seen fleeing the area and a poster titled "Your Actions Have Consequences" was found taped on the editor's bedroom window.

That same day, Shea was followed in her vehicle to a Redmond Target parking lot, where agents watched him change into a grey hoodie, stocking cap and don a surgical mask. He then walked across the street to a Fred Meyer, where he paid cash for a book of Santa Claus stamps and a roll of packing tape. Letters sent to a reporter and the unidentified Anti-Defamation bore Santa Claus stamps, the complaint states.

The reporter has been identified as KING 5's Chris Ingalls, who said he received a poster was in an envelope. The poster bore his name and personal cell phone number and stated, "Two Can Play at This Game," which Ingalls interpreted as a reference to his appearance at Cole's home last year while reporting on the gun seizures.

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