The Louisville Police Department today identified a man who was shot to death two weeks ago as Joshua Cowles, the former recruiting director for the Imperial Klans of America (IKA) and one of the defendants in a lawsuit brought against group members by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) in 2007.
A coroner’s report found that Cowles, 31, who also went by the names “Massimo Carlucci” and “Gotti,” died from multiple gunshot wounds on Nov. 7 inside a Louisville home. Several people were inside at the time of the shooting, including a woman police believed to be a person of interest. No further details were immediately available. Louisville police did not return several telephone messages left today.
Cowles was among the four IKA members who accosted 16-year-old Jordan Gruver while on a recruiting mission at the Meade County Fair in Brandenburg, Ky., near the group’s compound in Dawson Springs, in July 2007. Without provocation, they threw whiskey in his face, called him an “illegal spic” and brutally beat him. Gruver, a U.S. citizen of Panamanian Indian descent, suffered severe injuries, including a broken jaw and nerve damage.
The SPLC sued three of the IKA members and IKA Imperial Wizard Ron Edwards on Gruver’s behalf, winning a $2.5 million verdict in November 2008.
Cowles reached a settlement with Gruver and testified at the 2008 trial that Edwards, also a defendant, encouraged violence. He also told the jury, “The IKA is about one man and one man only – and that’s Ron Edwards. … It’s about his greed, his want to have money, his desire to get by without working, his desire to trick people into giving him money to support him.”
Cowles later began calling himself Massimo Carlucci and traded in his steel-toe boots for the gold pinkie rings and necklaces of a wannabe urban gangster. He ran several businesses involving exotic dancers, including Mossimo Carlucci Entertainment and The Diamond Girls, and moonlighted as a rapper in Louisville.
Using a different name online, “Boss Honky,” he flooded the Internet and his blog, “The Life and Times of a Sociopath,” with pictures of himself, his tattoos and his dancers. On Facebook, he wrote this of himself, “If you happen to find yourself in his company avoid eye contact at all cost. Especially if you are a female, it has been said he spits Rohypnol [the date rape drug] while talking to unsuspecting ladies.”
In the pictures, Cowles’ racist tattoos are still visible, including an upside-down cartoon caricature of Adolf Hitler on his arm (a tattoo that would be visible when he raised his arms in a Nazi salute) and an emblem on his neck for a group called the Honky Nation, a group he started in 2011.
The IKA was the second largest Klan group until the late 2000s but dwindled rapidly after Edwards’ defeat in court and his prison sentence on drug charges. The SPLC’s most recent count of hate groups, in 2012, found no active chapters.