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Pennsylvania Rampage

An immigration lawyer charged with a series of anti-minority murders headed up the tiny 'Free Market Party.'

The unemployed immigration lawyer charged with killing five people and critically injuring a sixth during an April rampage in Pittsburgh was also the leader of a tiny anti-immigrant, anti-affirmative action political party.

In a search of the Mt. Pleasant home of Richard Baumhammers, 34, police found a manifesto from the "Free Market Party," a group that Baumhammers headed but which apparently had no members.

The document, along with a web page Baumhammers put up last year, demanded an end to Third World immigration, lower taxes, less foreign aid and an English-only policy in the nation's schools. And it insisted that American doors should be opened to white European immigration.

Baumhammers allegedly began his rampage on April 28 when he strode into the home of a Jewish neighbor and allegedly shot her to death. In the 90-minute, two-county massacre that followed, two Asian-Americans, one man from India and a black man were killed. Another Indian man was critically wounded.

Surrounded by police who spotted his car a short time later, Baumhammers was arrested as he allegedly attempted to reload a large-caliber revolver. Also found in his car were spent cartridge casings, live ammunition, two Molotov cocktails and a can of red spray paint.

The synagogue that the first shooting victim attended had been spray-painted that day with red swastikas and the word "Jew."

Baumhammers' attorney hardly denied the charges.

"This isn't a whodunit defense," defense attorney William Difenderfer told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, adding that he believed that authorities had "a ton of evidence" implicating his client. "This is a mental infirmity defense."

Attorneys said that Baumhammers had a history of mental illness, although they did not elaborate except to say he had once committed himself to a mental institution.

One doctor acquaintance said he was apparently a schizophrenic, and a woman who met him in an institution said he feared he had been poisoned in one of his many trips to Europe, which included trips to his family's homeland of Latvia.

Baumhammers had no immediately evident links to white supremacist individuals or groups. But one such group, the allegedly "mainstream" Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), did link its own web site to the Free Market Party page that Baumhammers put up in January.

CCC leader Gordon Baum said the site was "pretty innocuous," but the CCC removed the link after the slaughter.

In their search of Baumhammers' home, officials told reporters that they had also found a document detailing the "third way" or "Third Position" political stance.

The Third Position refers to a fairly new brand of extremism that rejects both capitalism and communism, positing instead a neofascism sympathetic to labor. But it was unclear whether this document reflected Baumhammers' own thinking.

Baumhammers, who came from a well-to-do family of medical professionals, spent hours in Internet chat rooms, one acquaintance said.

His America Online member profile said he enjoys "international travel, sports, fine wine and other things." And he included a personal quote that in retrospect sounded positively eerie.

"This too," he wrote in the profile, "shall pass."