National News

Neo-Nazi Leader in Florida Sentenced to 5 Years Over Homemade Explosives

Posted January 10, 2018 4:30 p.m. EST

A neo-Nazi leader in Florida was sentenced to five years in prison on Tuesday over his stash of explosives, which the authorities discovered while investigating one of his roommates in the killing of the other two.

Officials were alerted in May to the explosives belonging to the neo-Nazi, Brandon Russell, by his roommate Devon Arthurs, who warned them that Russell had written online about plans to kill people and detonate bombs.

Arthurs confessed in May to shooting their other two roommates for disrespecting his newfound Muslim faith, police said.

Russell, who kept a framed picture of the Oklahoma City bomber, Timothy McVeigh, on his dresser, was a founding member of the neo-Nazi group the “Atomwaffen Division,” the Justice Department said in a statement. The Anti-Defamation League has described that organization as “a loose group of neo-Nazis” that has targeted college campuses, and has said it “appears to have a growing following nationwide, and particularly in Florida.”

The case against Russell, who was a member of the Florida National Guard, dates back to May 19, when police officers responded to the shooting at his Tampa, Florida, apartment, according to a police affidavit. There, they found the bodies of Jeremy Himmelman, 22, and Andrew Oneschuk, 18.

According to the affidavit, Arthurs admitted to shooting both men, telling authorities that all four of them had belonged to the neo-Nazi group. (Himmelman’s sister told The Tampa Bay Times that neither her brother nor Oneschuk had belonged to the group.)

In the garage, police found the explosive compound hexamethylene triperoxide diamine and other related materials, including “multiple pounds” of ammonium nitrate, nitromethane, empty shell casings, fuses and electric matches, according to the Justice Department.

Russell was arrested May 20 and pleaded guilty in September to possessing an unregistered destructive device and unlawfully storing explosive material.

He admitted to making the compound, telling authorities that he used it to boost homemade rockets and balloons, according to an FBI court filing. But an explosives expert with the agency said that the material was “too energetic and volatile” for those uses.

His garage was not the only place where police found weapons. In Russell’s bedroom, officers discovered firearms, ammunition, a military uniform, neo-Nazi and white supremacist propaganda, and camouflage gear bearing the name and symbols of the “Atomwaffen” group.