The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.
A 67-year-old self-described “Patriot” has been charged with building two improvised explosive devices found last November near Atlanta in a backpack stuffed with material suggesting the bomb-builder was a Muslim.
Michael Conrade Sibley, of Marietta, Ga., was being held on a $100,000 bond after he was arraigned yesterday in U.S. District Court in Atlanta on one charge of possessing explosives on federal property.
Sibley confessed to FBI agents during an interview on Friday, four days after he was initially interviewed about his involvement with planting a bomb-packed backpack in Vickery Creek Park in Roswell on Nov. 4, court documents said.
It is unclear what initially led authorities to question Sibley over the explosives, which were discovered by a mother and her daughter who were hiking in the park, located on federal property, north of Atlanta. A bomb-squad destroyed the backpack in place.
Evidence subsequently recovered by investigators likely included the suspect’s DNA. Also recovered were components of two potentially deadly pipe bombs, a Koran and a list of potential terrorist targets, including hospitals, schools and Jewish facilities in the Greater Atlanta area.
The Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta was among those listed and put on a heightened state of security after the backpack was discovered.
Various media outlets have reported that the backpack bomber’s intention apparently was to frighten the public and spread fear of Islamic terrorism.
The charging documents say Sibley bought the backpack at a garage sale, and constructed the explosive devices in the garage of his home in Marietta. He admitted placing a Quran and the book The Rape of Kuwait in the backpack, along a copy of the Atlanta Falcons football schedule. He also “wrote the name, ‘Mina Khodari,’ in the backpack because it looked foreign,” the court documents say.
Sibley told FBI agents “he is a ‘patriot’ and he felt no one was paying attention to what was going on the world,” federal documents say. He also expressed the belief that if he planted the backpack bomb in a Roswell Park, “people would finally get that this type of activity could happen anywhere.”
In the past decade, David Joseph Lenio has gone from a Michigan high school cross-country runner called “Dave” to a hate-filled accused criminal who told the world on Twitter: “I am a potential terrorist. I know the truth about 9/11.”
Along the way, he also expressed the desire to shoot a rabbi in the head, shoot 100 schoolchildren and engage in a shootout with police in order to end his life in a “suicide by cop.”
Before he could fulfill his threats, Lenio was arrested Feb. 16 at a Montana ski resort — a day when schools were closed for the President’s Day holiday – just one day after he taken two of his rifles and a quantity of ammunition out of a storage locker in Kalispell, Mont.
Today, the 28-year-old graduate of Forest Hills Northern High School, in Grand Rapids, Mich., will be led in handcuffs from a jail cell in Flathead County, Mont., to a courtroom.
Lenio is scheduled to be arraigned before District Court Judge Heidi J. Ulbricht — herself a mother — on two felony charges, intimidation and criminal defamation, for using his Twitter accounts to publish assorted death threats.
Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Stacy Boman told Hatewatch she will ask that Lenio remain in jail under a $500,000 bond until he stands trial.
Court documents detail the chilling threats allegedly made by Lenio.
“I bet I could get at least 12 unarmed sitting ducks if I decide to go on a killing spree in a #school Sounds better than being a wage slave,” Lenio wrote on Twitter on Feb. 12, the court filings allege.
“What do you think costs more in most U.S. cities? A gun with enough ammunition to kill 100 school kids or the security deposit on an apartment,” he posted later. A short time after that, he wrote: “What would I rather do? Be a #wage slave for the rest of my life or tell society fuck you & do your kids a favor by shooting up a #school?”
On Feb. 14, after sending tweets filled with anti-Semitic comments and expressing a desire to copy other mass shootings, Lenio wrote: “I bet I’d take out at least a whole #classroom & score 30+ if I put my mind to it #Poverty is making me want to kill folks #mental health’#
That was followed by this: “This working and not have a god damn thing to show for it [is] bullshit [and] makes me wanna execute grade #school #kids til the cops take me out too.” He also wrote about his hatred of Jews and called the Holocaust a “lie beyond a reasonable doubt. It is now time to hunt the Nazi hunters.”
When Twitter spotted his hateful messages in January, the social media provider shut down Lenio’s account, but he opened another, then another, mockingly displaying the ease with which he worked around Twitter’s policing.
Some of the 90 tweets Lenio fired off in mid-February came in response to an anti-gun violence tweet by Jonathan Hutson, a spokesman for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. Hutson provided information to state and federal authorities that led to Lenio’s arrest. ( continue to full post… )
The man reportedly arrested in the aftermath of a shooting spree in Mesa, Ariz., today sports tattoos that identify him as a neo-Nazi. What’s more, a local retired detective says he is a longtime white supremacist skinhead associated with major racist groups.
Ryan Giroux, who allegedly murdered one person and wounded five others earlier today and was arrested after a frenzied manhunt, was released from prison in Arizona in 2013. According to prison records, he has convictions for attempt to commit aggravated assault, marijuana, theft, and second degree burglary. Records indicate that he was sentenced to a total of about 14 years in prison.
The Arizona prison system’s mug shot of Giroux shows his face covered in white supremacist tattoos: where his shaven eyebrows used to be, the words “SKIN” and “HEAD”; and on his left temple, the number “88,” which is neo-Nazi code for Heil Hitler (because H is the 8th letter of the alphabet); and, on his chin, a “Thor’s Hammer,” a symbol used by adherents of Odinism, a pre-Christian faith that has been adopted by many white supremacists.
A retired Mesa Police detective who once infiltrated local skinhead groups told Hatewatch that he knew Giroux from previous encounters, and that Giroux was a member of Hammerskin Nation, a notoriously violent racist skinhead group, and an associate of the Aryan Brotherhood, a national prison gang with a long list of murders to its credit. “He’s a violent guy,” said the former detective, who knew Giroux as a young skinhead in the 1990s and early 2000s . “I think his time in prison contributed to that.”
Giroux, 41, has been in and out of Arizona prisons since 1993, when he was arrested for burglary and marijuana possession. His most recent prison stint, for an attempt to commit aggravated assault, began in 2007 and ended in October 2013.
According to early reports, the rampage apparently began before 9 a.m. at the Tri City Inn, a Mesa motel, when three people were shot in a room by the suspect. One of those, a male, died at the scene; two women in the room were wounded by the shooter.
The suspect then apparently ran across the street to a nearby bistro café and shot a man there. That victim then ran across the street to the motel, where medical personnel had arrived to treat the first victims, and he received treatment there.
The shooter then hijacked a car from a woman at the parking lot of an adjacent technical school and drove down a nearby boulevard for about a mile, and then pulled into a large apartment complex. Once there, he apparently shot and wounded a man outside in the parking lot. He then crossed the street to a nearby apartment and broke into it. The occupant of the apartment he invaded was left unhurt.
About two hours after the rampage began, Mesa police successfully cornered Giroux and captured him with the use of Tasers. He was led away from the scene in a DNA suit designed to preserve evidence on his person.
During the search for Giroux, officials at nearby Adams Elementary School put the school on shutdown, and officials at nearby Pima Medical Center similarly locked down their facility. After his arrest, there was a flood of cars from the area as people who had been put under lockdown fled, and parents arrived to take their children home from the school.
Editor’s Note: Officials said today that the start of the trial of Chris Simcox had been delayed until Monday, March 23.
One of the great ironies of the now-moribund vigilante border-watch movement is that its members were obsessed with the lawlessness of the immigrant border crossers they sought to apprehend — but themselves often had criminal backgrounds or, worse yet, hid behind their activism to pursue criminal acts.
Exhibit A: Chris Simcox.
Simcox was the co-founder of the Minuteman Project, the April 2005 gathering on the Arizona border of citizen border watchers south of the Tombstone area, where Simcox lived at the time. Originally founded as a border militia, Simcox and his Minutemen became the epitome of the nativist border-watch movement, embodied by a national fund-raising campaign that he led to build a fence on a section of the border as a demonstration project that mostly ended up lining the pockets of his Beltway-based handlers. The movement, which peaked with 319 nativist extremist groups in 2010, had faded to just 19 groups by late last year.
Simcox was a volatile personality with a history of destroyed relationships, and eventually his Minuteman Civil Defense Corps (MCDC) shut down amid turmoil within its ranks over finances and egos, as well as the decline of its reputation as the border-watch movement became increasingly associated with criminality.
Simcox himself provided the latest evidence of that association when he was arrested in July 2013 and charged with three counts of child molestation — later reduced to two — after his then-6-year-old daughter and one of her friends, age 5, accused him of sexually assaulting them. If convicted of the felony charges, Simcox could face life in prison.
Simcox goes on trial this week in Maricopa County Superior Court in Phoenix on the charges. (Hatewatch will provide coverage of the trial.) He plans to act as his own attorney in the trial, although he will be required to work through his court-appointed associate attorneys when it comes to cross-examining his two alleged victims.
Simcox’s is hardly the only such case. Seen retrospectively, the border-watch movement was remarkable for the number of its leaders and participants whose careers ended in criminal acts.
Even before Simcox came along with his Minuteman concept, one of the early border-militia organizers who preceded him also had a number of brushes with the law. Casey Nethercott, another Arizona resident, was involved in a border-watch operation called Ranch Rescue at the turn of the century, and he too had a number of criminal legal problems.
Nethercott — who had done prison time in California for assault in the 1990s — and some of his fellow Ranch Rescue members in 2003 assaulted two Salvadoran migrants who had crossed the border on foot and wound up on a ranch where the nativist border watchers operated. The migrants were held at gunpoint, and one of them was pistol-whipped and attacked by a Rottweiler. With the assistance of the SPLC, the migrants sued their attackers and won a million-dollar civil judgment against Ranch Rescue, including $500,000 against Nethercott, who also faced criminal assault charges in the case but eventually had them dismissed.
Nethercott eventually left Ranch Rescue and then began organizing his own border watches at a property he purchased in Arizona. Eventually he had a tense standoff with Border Patrol agents at that property; when FBI agents tried to arrest him for his role in that incident two weeks later, they wound up shooting the white supremacist who was accompanying him at the time.
Indeed, while the phrase “rule of law” even today is often bandied about by the remaining bands of vigilante nativists, the record demonstrates that this was a peculiarly flexible concept for many of the Minutemen and their associates.
Shawna Forde, for example, incorporated the phrase into the logo for her offshoot border-watch operation, Minuteman American Defense. Forde’s operation was widely promoted at the website of Simcox’s Minuteman Project co-founder, Jim Gilchrist; previously, she had been deeply involved in Simcox’s MCDC operations in Washington state.
Then, in June 2009, Forde was arrested and charged with masterminding the horrific murders of a 9-year-old girl and her father in the small Arizona border town of Arivaca, along with a white-supremacist cohort named Jason Eugene Bush and a local man, Albert Gaxiola, as part of her plan to create a border-militia compound. All three were convicted, and Forde and Bush wound up on Arizona’s Death Row.
After the arrests of Forde, Bush and Gaxiola, Forde’s former associates in the Minuteman movement fled from their onetime protégé. National leaders of the Minuteman movement — particularly Simcox and Gilchrist — hastily tried to put distance between themselves and Forde and her group. To this day, Gilchrist tries to claim that he had little to do with her.
But while Forde’s conviction severely damaged the border-watch movement — as one ex-MCDC leader put it, “A lot of people felt, well, you’re a Minuteman, you’re a killer” — that was not the end of it.
In April 2012, one of Forde’s associates in the desert, a Tucson man named Todd Hezlitt, was arrested and charged with two counts of sexual conduct with a minor for an affair he had initiated with a 15-year-old girl from a local high school where he was an assistant wrestling coach. Two months later, he fled with the girl to Mexico, and he briefly became an international fugitive.
A few weeks after that, the girl turned herself in to the American consulate in Mazatlan. Hezlitt was caught a short time later and extradited. He eventually wound up agreeing to plead guilty to the sexual conduct charges in exchange for not being charged with kidnapping, and was sentenced to six years in prison.
Another violent incident from a former border watcher erupted in Arizona in May 2012 when Jason Todd “J.T.” Ready — a longtime leader of the state’s neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement, and an organizer of independent NSM border watches in Arizona — went on a shooting rampage at the home of his girlfriend.
Before committing suicide, Ready shot and killed his girlfriend, Lisa Lynn Mederos, 47; her daughter, Amber Nieve Mederos, 23; the daughter’s boyfriend, Jim Franklin Hiott, and Amber’s 15-month-old baby girl, Lilly Lynn Mederos. Investigators later found chemicals and military-grade munitions that apparently belonged to Ready at the residence.
As Tim Steller at the Arizona Daily Star observed: “Undoubtedly, there have been border-militia members in Arizona who have carried out citizen patrols without harboring racist motives or having criminal tendencies. The problem for the movement … is that people with these motives or tendencies have cropped up repeatedly among citizen border-watchers.”
As police took Frazier Glenn Miller into custody minutes after three people – including a 14-year-old boy – were shot to death at two Jewish facilities in suburban Kansas City last April, the long-time neo-Nazi shouted “Heil Hitler.”
Then, according to The Kansas City Star, Miller asked the officers a chilling question. “How many f——- Jews did I kill?”
The bloody scene was recalled in a Kansas courtroom today by a veteran police officer, Sgt. Marty Ingram, as the first day of testimony began in an evidentiary hearing to determine whether Miller, a lifelong racist, should stand trial for the murderous shooting spree last April in Overland Park, Kan.
Five white supremacist gang members in Portland, Ore., are accused of kidnapping and torturing two men they suspected of cooperating with authorities in “Operation White Christmas,” a major investigation that subsequently led to more than 70 arrests in Oregon.
The massive investigation — resulting in charges including murder, attempted murder, assault, kidnapping, drug possession and identity theft — is a case study in the relationship between white supremacists and outlaw motorcycle gang members on the streets and in prisons.
Authorities say criminal enterprises identified in the investigation include the Gypsy Jokers outlaw motorcycle gang and five street- and prison white supremacist gangs: the Rude Krude Brood; European Kindred (EK); All Ona Bitch (AOB); Fat Bitch Killers (FBK) and Insane Peckerwood Syndicate (IPS).
Criminal charges against 70 defendants have been filed in state and federal courts. “We’ve also seized over 100 guns as part of this investigation,” Multnomah County Sheriff’s Detective Joshua Zwick told Hatewatch today.
Most of the crimes, investigators say, involved gang members victimizing other gang members, including those suspected of cooperating with investigators.
In the first incident, David Ray Bartol, 34, and David Bruce Corbit, 47, are accused of kidnapping a man at gunpoint from his Gresham, Ore., home on Dec. 21, 2012, and taking him to Tom’s Auto Painting & Body Shop in southeast Portland. There, the attackers stripped the victim, struck him with bats and used a belt sander on his left upper arm, the Oregonian reports.
The attackers then are accusing of putting a helmet on the victim’s head and firing a silencer-equipped rifle, striking the man’s head four or five times. They then injected the victim with heroin and dumped the unconscious man in the street about a mile away.
The second incident occurred Feb. 12, 2013, in the same auto body shop. Four suspects, Michael Philip Donald O’Malley, 25, Michael O. Newcomb, 27, and Joseph Gerald Schwab, 51, and Bartol are accused of torturing, robbing and twice shooting another man in a spray booth in the auto shop before dumping him on Southeast Powell Boulevard. That victim was hospitalized for several months and sustained permanent injuries, investigators say.
Corbit, an admitted heroin addict, is an enforcer in for the Rude Krude Brood white supremacist gang and co-owner of the auto shop where the alleged attacks took place, the Portland newspaper reported.
Bartol is named in a 14-count state indictment related to the two body shop assaults. He is charged with attempted aggravated murder, four counts of first-degree kidnapping, first- and second-degree assault, four firearms counts and two counts of forcing another to ingest a controlled substance.
For his role in the first kidnapping, Corbit pleaded guilty in January to unauthorized use of a weapon, first-degree kidnapping and second-degree assault and injecting drugs into the victim.
He hated Muslims.
They got what they deserved.
Things happen for a reason.
Those were the chilling words and sentiments the homeless man charged in the arson fire of a Houston mosque allegedly told a convenience store clerk shortly after part of the house of worship went up in flames Friday morning around 5:30.
The office of the Harris County District Attorney revealed the alleged statement yesterday evening when the suspect, 55-year-old Darryl Ferguson, made his first court appearance in the case, according to KPRC 2.
“He told a nearby convenience store clerk,” a court official said yesterday during Ferguson’s probable cause hearing, “that he hated Muslims, they got what they deserved, and things happen for a reason.”
Despite Ferguson’s alleged statements, the arson that heavily damaged a portion of the Quba Islamic Institute mosque and school in a residential neighborhood of Houston has not been classified as a hate crime. “It’s still under investigation,” Jeff McShan, a spokesman for the Harris County District Attorney, told Hatewatch today. “Who knows if that guy [the store clerk] is telling the truth?”
Ferguson, who has a lengthy criminal record, was arrested Monday evening after he approached arson investigators who were canvassing the neighborhood near the mosque. The authorities said Ferguson had been staying in the area and confessed to setting the fire, claiming it was accidental and he was simply trying to stay warm.
He has been charged with first-degree arson and faces from five to 99 years in prison if convicted. He is being held without bond.
McShan, the district attorney spokesman, said even if it turns out that Ferguson actually said those chilling words of hate to the store clerk he would not be charged with a hate crime because he has already been charged with the highest level of offense. In Texas, McShan said, a hate crime offense adds one degree to a charge “and he’s already at first degree and he wouldn’t be moved up.”
McShan said Ferguson’s alleged words, however, could be used against him at trial to establish guilt.
No one was injured in the blaze that took about two dozen firefighters roughly an hour to knock down. One of the three buildings – primarily used for storage – that comprise the mosque and school complex was gutted.
A telephone call to the mosque for comment today about Ferguson’s alleged statement was not returned.
A young woman from Illinois with an apparent taste for neo-Nazi symbolism and white-supremacist beliefs was one of two people arrested last week in Halifax, Nova Scotia, for plotting to commit a mass murder at a Halifax mall on Valentine’s Day.
Lindsay Kanittha Souvannarath, a 23-year-old from Geneva, Ill., was arrested along with Randall Steven Shepherd, 20, of Halifax, at the local airport after she had flown in to meet him there. According to authorities, she confessed to the plot shortly after her arrest.
A young man associated with the plot, James Gamble, 19, of nearby Timberlea, Nova Scotia, shot himself in the head as police surrounded his home on Friday morning. A fourth young man was arrested with Shepherd at the Halifax airport and then released after police determined he had nothing to do with the plot.
Canadian authorities said the trio planned to invade a local mall on Valentine’s Day, armed to the teeth, and begin killing as many people there as they could. However, all of the officials involved insisted that it was not a terrorist act, since there was no “cultural” component to the plotters’ motives.
“The attack does not appear to have been culturally motivated, therefore not linked to terrorism,” Justice Minister Peter Mackay told assembled reporters at a press conference devoted to the case on Saturday.
However, several Canadian media outlets have questioned this, including Halifax blogger Robert Cevet and Derrick O’Keefe at Ricochet Media, noting that several of the would-be perpetrators, notably Souvannarath, had clear ideological affinities that seemed to motivate them — far-right affinities.
The website Political Gates collected a number of Souvannarath’s online postings from over the years, dating back to when she was a teenager, and found a long list of images and posts that made clear that she advocated fascist and neo-Nazi ideologies, and similarly was a fan of mass violence and fantasized about it.
These images included one that she dubbed “me taking notes in class” that was a classic “White Power” logo complete with a swastika and SS symbol. Another photo shows an arm with the bloody words “White Power” carved into it with a razor. Other images include fascist flags over America and young men posing in a swastika shape with their arms. One features Adolf Hitler surrounded by prancing cartoon ponies.
The Internet sleuths at the site Kiwi Farms, where she had at one time been an active member, further tracked Souvanarrath’s activities and ascertained that she had also been an active member at a forum devoted to fascist ideology called Iron March, which is apparently operated by a man named Alexander Slavros.
Nor was Souvannarath the only member of the trio with such leanings. James Gamble’s online postings also included a fascination with mass killings, and some of his Tumblr blog posts contained admiring references to Hitler and Nazis.
Both Souvannarth and Shepherd were initially charged with conspiracy to commit murder. On Tuesday, additional charges came down against the pair, including conspiracy to commit arson, illegal possession of weapons for a purpose dangerous to the public and making a threat through social media.
Souvannarath graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English and creative writing from Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, in 2014. Her family in Geneva is reportedly cooperating with the investigation.
A former neighbor, Eva Schooley, recalled the woman as a young girl. “My granddaughters ran around with Lindsay,” she said. “Lindsay was a little strange. I think at one point she went kind of gothic on us for a while. She liked to dress in black, the whole gothic style.”
In his denials that the planned mass murder was a terrorist event, Justice Minister Mackay remarked: “An individual that would so recklessly and with bloody intent plot to do something like this I would suggest would also be susceptible to being motivated by groups like ISIS and others. This is the main concern — that any individual in Canada, whatever their motivation or proclivities might be, would also be susceptible to being recruited or radicalized.”
Clearly, these young people had indeed been radicalized, but not by ISIS.
A 28-year-old man who threatened to kill school children and Jews is in custody in Kalispell, Mont., after a weekend fusillade of tweets that were intercepted and monitored by the spokesman for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.
David Joseph Lenio was arrested by FBI agents and local police Monday afternoon at a ski resort, about 12 hours after his last tweet using variations of the name “psychic dog talks.”
Lenio, who apparently moved to Kalispell from Grand Rapids, Mich., is being held in the Flathead County Jail on two felony charges on intimidation and malicious intimidation for making online threats of violence. A search of his apartment in Kalispell turned up a handgun and two rifles – a bolt action and a semi-automatic.
Now, he also may face federal criminal charges.
In a YouTube video three years ago, the suspect, believed to have used the name “David Dave,” brandished a .32-caliber Caltech semi-automatic handgun and said that he used it for concealed carry.
FBI agents and local law enforcement agencies in Montana, Oregon and Michigan were able to track and ultimately locate the suspect because of the work of Jonathan Hutson, the chief spokesman for the Brady Campaign.
“Of all the people on Twitter with whom this white supremacist chose to tangle, he picked me,” Hutson told Hatewatch today. “I just happen to be a spokesman for the Brady Campaign Against Gun Violence and I have a background as an investigative journalist.”
Hutson has 53,000 followers on his Twitter account. Lenio, using the handle @PyschicDogTalk, responded after Hutson posted a Twitter message about double killings at a free-speech event and a synagogue on Saturday in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Since last Thursday, Hutson learned, the Holocaust-denying Lenio has tweeted comments saying he wants to execute 30 or more “grade school students” and “shoot up a school” and a synagogue, and put “two in the head” of a rabbi or Jewish leader. He also said he hoped to go on a killing rampage until “cops take me out.”
Hutson, who lives near Washington, D.C., became aware of the threatening tweets from “@PyschicDogTalk2” late Saturday evening. “After I alerted Twitter to @PyschicDogTalk2’s threat to murder grade school kids, he tweeted to me, asking where my kids go to school,” Hutson told Hatewatch. “That turned my blood cold and kept me going all night long to shut this guy down.”
When Hutson reported @PyschicDogTalk2 to Twitter for account violations, Twitter shut down the account, but the user bounced back with the name @PsychicDogTalk3. Using that account name, he fired off another 91 tweets.
Early Sunday, after being awake and worried all night, Hutson said he decided to call the FBI in Portland and in Linn County, Ore., Sheriff’s Office after developing a profile that led him to belief “psychicdogtalk” might be in Oregon. Hutson sent the agencies E-mails containing the Twitter threats he had collected.
When Twitter shut down the second account, the user became @PsychicDogTalk3,” boasting about his ability to “level up,” as in a video game.
In one tweet, the poster complained of being homeless and working as a “wage slave.” His post said: “Even animals without money get land to live on, hunt & forage; but Americans without dollars must be homeless? I want to shoot up a school.”
At 2:57 a.m. on Feb. 12, he posted: “I bet I could get at least 12 unarmed sitting ducks if I decide to go on a killing spree in a #school. Sounds better than being a wage slave.”
Less than 45 minutes later, he followed that with: “USA needs a Hitler to rise to power and fix our #economy and i’m about ready to give my life to the cause or just shoot a bunch of #kikes…”
And seconds later: “What do you think costs more in most U.S. cities? A gun with enough ammo to kill 100 school kids or the security deposit on an apartment?”
On Feb. 14, the poster opined that “no one faults slaves who snapped & violently lashed out at their masters or the society which enslaved them. Why different for wage slaves?”
“If I can’t even afford habitat to live on, why the fuck shouldn’t I shoot up a #school and #teach the world something about ‘mental health’?” he said in a follow-up tweet.
“This working and not having a god damn thing to show for it bullshit makes me wanna execute grade #school #kids til the cops take me out too.”
Asked if he believed his actions may have averted a tragedy, Hutson was modest in his reply. “I think if you see something, say something. The swift action of law enforcement definitely averted a Sandy Hook-style tragedy.”
A homeless man has been charged with arson in connection with a fire last week that heavily damaged a portion of the Quba Islamic Institute mosque and school in a residential neighborhood of Houston.
Suspect Darryl Ferguson, 55, was arrested Monday evening after he approached arson investigators who were canvassing the neighborhood near the mosque, the Houston Chronicle reported. Investigators said Ferguson, who has a lengthy criminal record and had been staying in the area, confessed to setting the fire, claiming it was accidental.
Authorities have not said if they intend to classify the arson as a hate crime.
In a Facebook posting and media interviews, mosque officials say they were told by investigators that the fire at 5:30 a.m. Friday was deliberately started by someone using accelerants.
Two dozen firefighters from the Houston Fire Department had the fire knocked down within an hour but the blaze gutted one of three buildings — primarily used for storage — that comprise the mosque and school complex.
No one was injured. A damage estimate hasn’t been released.
It is the latest in a string of at least four suspicious fires or arson attempts at Houston-area mosques in the past decade.
The arson fire in Houston occurred just three days after the murder of three Muslim university students in Chapel Hill, Va. The FBI is now conducting an initial inquiry to determine if those killings constitute a hate crime, warranting a federal investigation.
“A lot of people have the feeling that perhaps the mentality is the same,” Ahsan Zahid, son of the Houston institute’s imam, told the Los Angeles Times after the fire at the mosque.
In an interview with the Houston Chronicle, Zahid noted the preliminary finding of arson and added, “I hope it’s not a hate crime.”
Houston — the fourth largest city in the United States — has the largest population of Muslims in Texas, an estimated 57,000 people. The state of Texas, meanwhile, has the nation’s eighth largest Muslim population, 420,000 people, who are served by 166 mosques.
Some of them, it appears, have been targets of hate crimes.
In March 2011, a fire at the Clear Lake mosque in southeastern Houston damaged a library, kitchen and women’s prayer room. Two months later, three masked men captured on security cameras poured gasoline on prayer rugs at the Madrasah Islamiah mosque, but a large fire failed to ignite.
In May 2004, a late-night arson fire damaged the Msjiad Almuhaymin mosque in Houston while the facility was locked and vacant.
There have been no arrests in any of those arsons, according to media reports.
But last May, at the end of a lengthy sting investigation, the FBI arrested a man from a Houston suburb who allegedly plotted to kill police officers and blow up government buildings and mosques.
Robert James Talbot Jr., 38, of Katy, Texas, who used the online alias of “Robert Liberty,” pleaded guilty in October to attempted interference with commerce by robbery and solicitation to commit a crime of violence.
Most court documents in his case are sealed from public viewing, but the docket report shows Talbot is scheduled for sentencing on April 10.