A Florida teenager accused of killing his two roommates in Tampa, Florida, allegedly told police he shot them because they were neo-Nazis who did not respect his recent conversion to Islam.
Devon Arthurs, 18, told investigators that he and his roommates had "shared a common neo-Nazi belief" until he converted to Islam, according to Tampa police.
Jeremy Himmelman, 22, and Andrew Oneschuk, 18, were found dead of apparent gunshot wounds on Friday in the apartment they shared with Arthurs and a fourth roommate, 22-year-old self-proclaimed neo-Nazi Brandon Russell, who was arrested Monday on suspicion of manufacturing explosives in the apartment building's garage.
The strange saga began when Arthurs was arrested after allegedly holding three individuals hostage at the Green Planet Smoke Shop, located near the apartment complex where he and his roommates lived. According to a police report obtained by the Tampa Bay Times, Arthurs told the hostages he had already killed people that day and "that he was upset due to America bombing his Muslim countries."
After Tampa police officers negotiated the release of the hostages, a handcuffed Arthurs allegedly made references to "Allah Mohammed" and said that he had killed two people. According to the arrest report, he told officers that "this wouldn't have had to happen if your country didn't bomb my country" and directed them to the apartment at 15350 Amberly Drive.
When police arrived at the residence, they found the two dead men. They also found Russell, who had been out of town on Army National Guard duty, standing outside "crying and visibly upset."
When they searched Russell's bedroom, officers found neo-Nazi propaganda, a framed photograph of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, and two types of radiation sources used in the making of bombs. After the apartment was cleared by a Tampa police bomb squad, FBI officials reported finding hexamethane triperoxide diamine (HMTD), a crucial ingredient in several types of explosives, in the building's garage.
Arthurs allegedly told officers that, until his recent religious conversion, all four men had shared neo-Nazi beliefs, and that he had witnessed Russell participating in white supremacist chatrooms "where he threatened to kill people and bomb infrastructure," according to a federal criminal complaint filed Monday.
Before requesting a lawyer, Russell allegedly told FBI agents that he was a member of a neo-Nazi group called Atomwaffen (German for "atomic bomb"), but claimed that the explosive materials were for a rocket-making project.
Arrest reports and archived posts on the white supremacist forum IronMarch.org indicate that all four roommates were members of the neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen Division, which has recently gained notoriety for targeting college campuses with anti-Semitic propaganda.
Russell is one of the group's leaders and has been posting under the name "Odin" for years.
"The ATOMWAFFEN DIVISION is a group comprised of many members, and has been many years in the making, at least 3 years," Russell posted in October 2015. "Our exact numbers are not to be talked about too publicly but we are over 40 members strong. Large concentration in Florida, various smaller chapters throughout the US, such as Chicago, Texas, and New England, Boston, New York, Kentucky, Alabama, Ohio, Missouri, Oregon, Virginia, and a few others."
Arthurs posted under the name "TheWeisseWolfe" until he was banned, apparently because of his conversion to Islam. However, he continued to appear in Odin's posts, indicating that his conversion didn't sour their friendship.
In November, Russell posted that he and Arthurs spent a week in Massachusetts with "the Boston Chapter of the Atomwaffen Division." According to his captions, they spent time in Walpole, the hometown of Himmelamn and Oneschuk.
After news broke of the shootings in Tampa, IronMarch members began commenting on an open thread about Russell and Arthurs. His conversion to Islam was frequently mentioned, and some members wondered why he was allowed to remain a member of Atomwaffen.
Ellie Hall is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC.
Contact Ellie Hall at email@example.com.
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