Skip to main content Accessibility
The Intelligence Report is the SPLC's award-winning magazine. Subscribe here for a print copy.

Neo-Nazi Killed by Cops in Illinois Shootout

Eric Hanson, a member of the neo-Nazi National Alliance, died in a shootout with Illinois police in June 2001.

Eric Hanson, a member of the neo-Nazi National Alliance, died in a hail of police bullets on the morning of June 5 in a Lindenhurst, Ill., grocery store after shooting two police officers and enduring an all-night, 14-hour standoff.

It started when police tried to arrest Hanson on the afternoon of June 4 for unlawful possession of two handguns. Hanson had been barred from owning firearms since a 1999 felony hate crime conviction for assaulting an interracial couple, for which he served a year in prison.

Hanson led police on a car chase to a nearby grocery store, where he started a fierce gun battle and wounded two officers. Though Hanson shot one officer in the neck and another in his bulletproof vest, both survived.

After ordering customers and employees to leave the store, Hanson negotiated with police via telephone into the night. He also called friends, reportedly to "say goodbye," and even explained the situation to an off-duty store employee who had called in to check his work schedule.

Police sent a remote-controlled robot to search for Hanson in the store at 3:30 a.m. But the robot found nothing, and later in the morning a team of officers stormed the store and confronted Hanson in a meat locker. Police shot Hanson a dozen times after he allegedly started a second gun battle.

Hanson, who was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps in 1997, had been a National Alliance member for years.

Following the hate crime assault and his May 2000 parole, Hanson attended several of the largest white power gatherings in the country, including Hammerfest in Bremen, Ga., and NordicFest 2001 in Powderly, Ky., two racist skinhead music festivals.

Hanson also attended a National Alliance-sponsored anti-immigration rally in Gainesville, Ga., in March 2001.

To some National Alliance members, Hanson was a martyr who, in the words of one Alliance member's Internet posting, died "an honorable death, bravely in battle."

Alliance boss William Pierce, saying he had only met Hanson once, said members recalled him "as quiet, sober, serious and decent."