TAMPA PALMS, Fla. (WFLA) – New and disturbing details are emerging about a Tampa Palms man with ties to a Neo-Nazi group.
The Neo-Nazi connection came to light after the murders of Jeremy Himmelman 22, and Andrew Oneschuk 18.
Russell’s roommate, Devon Arthurs, 18, is accused of killing Himmelman and Oneschuk.
After holding three people hostage in a Tampa Palms smoke shop and threatening to kill them, Arthurs led police to the bodies of Himmelman and Oneschuk.
That’s when they found an emotional Brandon Russell outside of the apartment.
Arthurs told police the Russell knew nothing about the murders, but police did find material to make high explosives inside the apartment.
According to a motion filed late Monday, Arthurs claims Russell had materials in the house to kill civilians and target locations like power lines, nuclear reactors, and synagogues.
Federal prosecutors filed a motion late Monday seeking to keep Russell in jail while he awaits trial.
The night of the murders, Russell told police he had been a member of an engineering club at the University of South Florida and said the explosive they found were for setting off model rockets and balloons. Russell admitted to the possession of the ammonium nitrate and other precursors found in the garage, as well as the electric matches that could be used as an initiator.
Police say instead of going to West Palm Beach to see his dad, Russell headed to Bradenton where he picked up the friend.
The two then went to a sporting goods store where they bought Savage Arms, 30-06 caliber rifle and a Smith & Wesson 5.56 caliber assault-style rifle.
Russell had approximately 500 rounds of .223 caliber ammunition and 30 round magazines. Each of the four magazines was already loaded with about 25 rounds of the .223 caliber ammunition. Binoculars, some of his Army camouflage uniforms, combat boots and a skull mask were also found in his car at the time of his arrest.
The government contends Russell is the leader of a group that calls itself “Atom Waffen” and that the group has about 30 members nationwide.
Russell is seeking to be released from jail while he waits for trial. His grandmother in Orlando has offered to post his bond, but the motion from the U.S. Attorney’s office points out that Russell’s grandmother knew nothing about his Neo-Nazi connections and that his relationship with his father is strained.
The government also believes Russell is a flight risk because be has significant ties to the Bahamas; his mother and sibling live there, and he has frequently traveled there.
In its motion to keep Russell in jail, the government points out the material found in Russell’s garage could be made into a bomb.
The government’s motion specifically says “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.”
At a hearing on Russell’s status, an attorney for the government played a video recording of Devon Arthurs telling Tampa police detectives he killed Himmelman and Oneschuk to prevent a massive terror attack.
Arthurs told police Russell had the knowhow to build a nuclear weapon and they planned to attack a nuclear power plant in South Florida to contaminate the water along the east coast with radioactive fallout.
An attorney for Russell called the claims made by Arthurs as nothing but pure fantasy.
“I don’t believe anything Devon Arthurs says. Devon Arthurs is a person who just murdered two individuals who is desperate to save himself,” said attorney Ian Goldstein.
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