A Spring Hill man is one of four people accused Tuesday in a federal criminal complaint with carrying out a neo-Nazi campaign to harass and intimidate activists and journalists — including a reporter in Tampa.
Authorities say the four were part of Atomwaffen Division, an online-based organization of neo-Nazis who achieved notoriety after one of their former members was accused of murdering two of his roommates in a New Tampa townhouse.
The criminal complaint, filed in federal court in Seattle, names Taylor Ashley Parker-Dipeppe, 20, of Spring Hill, along with three other men in Texas, Arizona and Washington State. The group spoke through an encrypted online chat group to identify journalists and others they wanted to intimidate, according to federal prosecutors. They focused primarily on people who are Jewish or journalists of color.
The group drew up a series of posters which bore swastikas, images of masked figures carrying guns and Molotov cocktails, and threatening language. They printed the posters and mailed them to people they targeted, prosecutors said.
The other men named in the complaint were Cameron Brandon Shea, 24, of Redmond, Wash.; Caleb Cole, 24, of Montgomery, Texas; and Johnny Roman Garza, 20, of Queen Creek, Ariz.
The FBI became aware of the group’s activities and began surveillance of the four in late January.
On Jan. 24, agents watched as Parker-Dipeppe left his Spring Hill home with a woman. They visited a Goodwill store, where they bought a baseball bat, a hooded sweatshirt and sunglasses. They later went to a Walmart, where they bought a pack of Gorilla tape mounting squares, according to the complaint.
The next day, they drove to Tampa. Parker-Dipeppe dropped off the woman at an apartment complex and later picked up another man in St. Petersburg, the complaint states.
They went to a home in Tampa they believed was the residence of a news reporter who was born and raised in Puerto Rico, according to the complaint. But the reporter did not live at the home. They had the wrong address. The reporter is not identified in the court document.
The pair walked up to the home and affixed a poster to the front of it directly below a bedroom window. In bold text interspersed with swastikas, it read: WE ARE WATCHING WE ARE NOONE WE ARE EVERYONE WE KNOW WHERE YOU LIVE DO NOT F--- WITH US.
The bottom featured a hazard symbol often included on Atomwaffen materials, and the words YOU HAVE BEEN VISITED BY YOUR LOCAL NAZIS.
A woman who lived at the home with her father and child saw the poster, the complaint states.
The rest of the group is accused of delivering similarly threatening posters to other people throughout the country. Other targets included the editor of a Jewish publication and two people associated with the Anti-Defamation League.
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The complaint, which seeks to charge all four men with the crime of conspiracy, includes partial transcripts of chats in which they discussed the posters, their targets, and how to avoid getting caught. The FBI and local law enforcement arrested all four Wednesday, federal prosecutors said.
It was not immediately clear where Parker-Dipeppe was picked up.
It was also unclear what if any ties any of the men had with Brandon Russell, the founder of Atomwaffen Division, who was arrested in Tampa in 2017 and is now serving a federal prison sentence.
Authorities became aware of Russell after his roommate, Devon Arthurs, was accused of murdering their other two roommates, Andrew Oneschuk and Jeremy Himmelman. When police and federal agents searched their New Tampa townhouse, they found explosives and bomb-making materials, which were said to have belonged to Russell. They also found white supremacist and anti-government literature and a framed photograph of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh.
Arthurs, who was once a member of Atomwaffen Division, told police his roommates had ridiculed his conversion to Islam. He also claimed that Russell and his roommates were plotting terrorist attacks, which he aimed to thwart.
Russell was never charged with terrorism offenses. He pleaded guilty to explosives charges. He is due to be released from prison in 2021.
The murder case against Arthurs is pending in Tampa. He spent a year in a state hospital after being deemed incompetent to proceed to trial. Since then, he has returned to jail in Tampa. In a recent court hearing, doctors testified that he has autism and schizophrenia, among other conditions. They differed in their opinions about whether he is well enough to face trial.