Synagogue Arsonist Injures Jail Guard

Extremist Crimes

A California white supremacist, convicted of torching three synagogues and still facing trial in a notorious double murder, severely injured a jail guard in an apparent escape attempt in June, officials say.

Matthew Williams, a 34-year-old extremist, hid in a shower stall at the Shasta County Jail in Redding, Calif., with another accused murderer, Paul Gordon Smith, 24.

Jail officials say Williams and Smith ambushed guard Timothy Renault, 23, who was hospitalized in critical condition with a fractured skull.

Renault's condition was later upgraded to serious.

Williams and his younger brother, Tyler Williams, 31, pleaded guilty last November to carrying out arson attacks against three Sacramento synagogues and an abortion clinic in 1999. The elder Williams was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison, while his brother was handed a term of 21 years.

Both brothers were scheduled to go on trial Oct. 8 on charges that they murdered a gay couple on July 1, 1999. Gary Matson and Winfield Mowder were slain as they slept in their home in Happy Valley, Calif.

Matthew Williams is an apparent adherent of the theology of Christian Identity, which identifies Jews as the biological descendants of Satan and abhors abortion and homosexuality.