Police in the small northeastern Oregon city of Pendleton have arrested three suspected members of a nascent white supremacist gang believed to be responsible for a string of violence, including drive-by shootings and a bombing.
Jeremiah Jerome Mauer, 30, who is believed to be the founder of United Aryan Empire, was arrested last weekend on multiple charges of being a felon in possession of weapons, Pendleton Police Chief Stuart Roberts told Hatewatch today.
Steven Ray Grangood, 22, was arrested at the same time and booked into the Umatilla County Jail on charges of illegally buying firearms and providing them to fellow gang members who are felons.
A third suspected member of the racist gang, Gregory Charles Tinnell, 43, was arrested Tuesday on charges of being a felon in possession of firearms.
The Pendleton police chief said an ongoing investigation suggests the United Aryan Empire is the brainchild of Mauer, a felon who was unsuccessful in his attempt to join European Kindred, a neo-Nazi skinhead gang with multiple members in Portland and others in the state’s prison system.
“We believe United Aryan Empire is a hybrid he (Mauer) created,” Stuart told Hatewatch. “I think it goes back to his desire to be somebody.”
The gang has been linked to at least three violent crimes. Now, with the three arrests gaining media attention, victims of other crimes linked to the group are coming forward and reporting other unknown incidents, Roberts said.
“We are now learning of other incidents that went unreported because the victims feared retaliation if they contacted police,” Stuart said. “This thing is big, quite frankly, in terms of what’s out there.”
Police became aware of the United Aryan Empire when members of the group, including Mauer, were involved in a large gang fight last October at a residence in Pendleton, Stuart said. Mauer sustained a serious head wound in that fight, while a member of a Hispanic gang suffered a severe knife wound in the abdomen.
On Nov. 23, members of UAE detonated an improvised explosive device outside another residence in north Pendleton before firing multiple rounds from a .45 caliber handgun into the occupied home, Stuart said. The home’s occupant was reluctant to cooperate with police, but officers did recover expended bullets from the walls of residence.
Then, on Christmas Eve, in another drive-by shooting, rounds from a .45 caliber handgun were fired into a third residence occupied by an excommunicated UAE who had refused to carry out an order from leaders of the gang, the police chief said.
No one was injured in that incident. Responding officers stopped and arrested Tinnell five blocks away from the shooting. He was carrying a .45 caliber bullet, a handgun ammunition clip and a holster, but he did not have a weapon. He was arrested on a weapons violation because he was carrying an illegal switchblade knife, Stuart said.
The investigation culminated with the serving of a search warrant last Saturday at Mauer’s residence in Pendleton, where police found five weapons, including a sawed-off shotgun and assorted “gang-related literature,” the chief said.
In recruiting members, the United Aryan Empire has said its goal is to rid the community of 17,000 of methamphetamine dealers. “They said, “We’re not about violence. We’re not about racism,’ but that is a total contradiction of the activities the group has carried out,” Stuart said.
The police chief said additional charges are possible after the Umatilla County District Attorney reviews the case and presents it to a county grand jury. Federal authorities, meanwhile, are aware of the investigation and monitoring developments, Stuart said.