An autopsy report on a New Mexico school shooter provides explicit details that contradict earlier statements by San Juan County Sheriff’s officials who dismissed suggestions the gunman had racist “alt-right” leanings.
The killer, William Atchison, who took his own life after fatally shooting two students in early December, was included in a special SPLC report, The Alt-Right is Killing People, released earlier this month.
Immediately after the SPLC's report was published, the office of San Juan County Sheriff Ken Christesen said including Atchison actions in the list of examples of alt-right violence was an attempt to “politicize” the December 7 shooting at Aztec High School in Aztec, New Mexico.
“I don’t think this has anything to do with political agenda,” Brice Current, the internal affairs captain for San Juan Sheriff’s Office, told members of the media.
That opinion was further underscored when Jayme Harcrow, a spokeswoman for the sheriff’s department, told The Associated Press the sheriff’s office hadn’t found any evidence tying Atchison’s motivations to the alt-right.
While the autopsy report isn’t mandated to address the shooter’s motivation, it does suggest he was intrigued or interested in racism and alt-right issues to the point of putting semi-permanent marks on his body.
The report, authored by Dr. Lauren E. Dvorscak, a medical investigator and assistant professor of pathology at the University of New Mexico, says the shooter had “faint ink markings” of a neo-Nazi “SS” lightning bolt on his left leg.
Atchison’s body also bore another ink marking: a Nazi swastika.
What’s more, the man who took the life of two young people — both of Latino ancestry — had an inscription above the left knee that said, “BUILD WALL,” the autopsy report discloses.
That body inking certainly would appear to be a reference to Donald Trump’s “Build the Wall” drumbeat — a mantra that gave spiritous rise to the alt-right and white nationalist movements, precipitating several instances of violence in recent months.
A fourth marking on the shooter’s body was “AMOG,” which likely may be a vernacular reference to Alpha Male of Group — “a guy that everyone thinks is cool and is always wants to be the social center.” Male dominance and misogyny are frequent components of the alt-right movement.
The sheriff’s department hasn’t made a public comment about the autopsy report.
In most cases, detectives or investigators attend autopsies in cases of violent or suspicious deaths. If that was the case in the Atchison autopsy, conducted two days after the deadly shooting, the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office should have known about the racist markings on Atchison’s body when they made their comments this month.
Harcrow, the spokeswoman for the San Juan sheriff, did not return a call from Hatewatch seeking comment on the autopsy report or clarification.
Meanwhile, various media outlets have reported the shooter’s online activities included posting “pro-Hitler and pro-Trump” comments on alt-right forums and white nationalist websites, including the virulently antisemitic “Daily Stormer” site.
Latino and Hispanic civil rights organizations in New Mexico did not immediately respond to requests for comments about the autopsy findings.
However, one spokeswoman said San Juan County Sheriff Christesen is a pro-gun supporter of Trump’s hardline on border issues. Christesen recently came under criticism for his Facebook comments supporting Trump’s reference to “shithole” countries.