An arrest warrant was obtained Thursday for a longtime white supremacist with neo-Nazi ties and a history of violence in connection with a pepper spray attack on a left-leaning group in Anchorage, Alaska,
Update : Bret Maness was arrested Thursday, April 26 without incident and faces multiple charges including Assault 4, Burglary 2 and Terroristic Threatening 1.
Bret Fletcher Maness, a 53-year-old former heavy metal vocalist, is accused of targeting the activist group while they were gathered in a small room at the Anchorage Community House, a venue connected to the Church of Love, acting out a role-playing exercise on how to deal with confrontation while protesting peacefully. On April 21, Maness is alleged to have opened the door, which had a sign on it reading “Nonviolence training here. Please come in!” and sprayed a canister of orange-colored bear spray— an ultra-potent pepper spray used to deter bear attacks — at the participants before exiting and running away.
The Anchorage Police Department (APD) posted surveillance photos of the suspect on its Facebook page Tuesday afternoon, hoping to identify the six-foot tall man with a long white beard and a t-shirt bearing the logo of the British rock band The Cult. Dozens of Facebook users identified the man in the photos as Maness, and on Thursday afternoon a 14-count arrest warrant was issued in his name.
On social media, Maness’s Facebook and Gab.ai accounts promote the local chapter of the Daily Stormer Book Club, part of a network of local neo-Nazi white supremacist groups formed by Andrew Anglin, publisher of the Daily Stormer, the most-trafficked neo-Nazi website on the internet.
On Gab.ai, the white supremacist alternative to Twitter, Maness primarily posted about cryptocurrency, but reposted a wide swath of racist, Nazi and anti-LGBT content. He reposted a “Nehlen for Congress” image supporting white nationalist Paul Nehlen, who’s running for retiring House Speaker Paul Ryan’s Wisconsin seat in congress; after the Parkland shooting, when would-be white supremacist Republic of Florida militia “leader” Jordan Jereb falsely claimed credit for training the shooter, Nikolas Cruz, Maness reposted an image from Jereb of Pepe the Frog holding a Republic of Florida flag.
The bio section on the Gab page for the Spenard Stormers, the Daily Stormer Book Club Maness promotes, reads: “Spenard Stormers don't let a gay parade go by w/out Trouble. we hav consolidated w/all TRS [The Right Stuff], DS [Daily Stormer], MAGA, altright, NW Front [Northwest Front], 2A, Identity, Vikings, Bikers, Skins, Fashys, CC, HAC and th nurite, to Stormtrump all gay parades w/ambush reporting 2 save th USA!”
“[Maness] hates gay people; he hates anyone who’s not white,” says a former roommate and bandmate of Maness’s from the late ‘80s who asked not to be named in order to avoid online harassment.
The bandmate says Maness’s neo-Nazi ideology led to the band’s breakup in the early ‘90s, and his violent tendencies toward African Americans were evident even then.
“He was my roommate for over a year, and by the time I moved out, I was telling people he’s going to kill somebody. Because he would sit in the living room with a BB gun, pointing it at black dudes that were in our neighborhood, and he’d just sit there and go, ‘pow, pow, die nigger!’”
In November 1997, Maness was charged with first-degree murder after killing a black neighbor. Witnesses said Maness yelled racial slurs and waved guns at the victim in the weeks leading up to the shooting; prosecutors in the case said Maness shot a pellet gun at the victim’s house on the morning of November 21, causing the victim to come confront Maness at his apartment. A melee ensued and Maness shot and killed the victim with an assault rifle. Maness was acquitted of the murder charge after arguing he shot the victim in self-defense, but was convicted of weapons and drug charges, resulting in a sentence of eight years in prison with three suspended.
In 2001, while he was appealing the weapons and drug convictions, Maness was shot by law enforcement after evading Alaska State Troopers trying to serve a psychiatric commitment order sought by his wife. A trooper had approached him in his RV, but Maness reportedly told him, “You need to leave or you are going to die.” A chase ensued, during which Maness fired shots at law enforcement. Maness ran from the RV, and with the help of a K-9 unit and surveillance aircraft was found hours later by police. When confronted, Maness turned toward the officers and was shot in the left shoulder. The assistant U.S. attorney who prosecuted the case said law enforcement found white supremacist literature in his possession, along with several firearms. Maness was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison in 2003.
Maness is facing one first-degree felony count of making a terroristic threat, a second-degree burglary charge, 11 counts of fourth-degree assault, and one count of reckless endangerment for the pepper spray attack on the activists on April 21. In a press release Thursday morning asking for the public’s assistance in locating Maness, Anchorage police described Maness as “possibly armed and dangerous.”