SPLC concerned over Tampa Palms suspects’ ties to hate groups

Devon Arthurs

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The former neo-Nazi accused of murdering his roommates in Tampa Palms appeared before a Hillsborough judge on Monday.

A video stream from the jail captured Devon Arthurs, 18, in handcuffs, wearing a red jail jumpsuit; rolling his eyes and yawning as serious charges were read against him.

Arthurs first led police on his trail when he took three people hostage at a local smoke shop. When police arrived at the scene and Arthurs released the hostages, he reportedly made references to “Allah Mohammed” and asked officers: “Why shouldn’t I kill you?”

Arthurs then admitted to murdering Jeremy Himmelman and Andrew Oneschuk, telling police he killed his friends, both neo-Nazis for disrespecting his new religion. Arthurs had recently converted to Islam.

He then directed police to his apartment where Himmelman and Oneschuck were found with multiple gunshots to their heads and upper bodies. Police also found a framed poster of Oklahoma City Bomber Timothy McVeigh and chemicals that could be used to make a high explosive, which belonged to another roommate, Brandon Russell.

This evidence caught the eye of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project, which tracks hate and extremism in the United States.

“Anytime that you involve racist ideologies with explosive devices with a means to take massive amounts of life it’s a serious, serious worry,” said Ryan Lenz, a senior writer for the SPLC’s Intelligence Project and editor of their Hatewatch blog. “It’s a group that seems to have been very intently interested in committing an act of violence, an ideologically motivated act of violence but fortunately for everyone on the outside it was cut short by their own hubris and mistake.”

Russell is now being held on federal charges related to the explosives and chemicals found in the apartment.

Arthurs is being held without bond on state charges related to the murders and kidnappings.




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