TAMPA — The alleged Spring Hill neo-Nazi who the government says was part of a nationwide plot to intimidate and threaten journalists and people of color was ordered to remain in jail Thursday without bail.
Tyler Parker-Dipeppe, 20, was booked in the Pinellas County Jail after a first appearance Thursday in federal court in Tampa.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas G. Wilson found probable cause to believe he committed a crime described in a criminal complaint and ordered detention pending further court proceedings in Seattle, where the case originated.
Parker-Dipeppe is one of four people federal agents say engaged in the plot, which involved delivering posters that bore swastikas and threatening language. All four face a charge of conspiracy.
“I don’t know what happened to him,” his father, Henry Dipeppe, said on the telephone from New Jersey. “I didn’t raise him that way. He wasn’t raised in a house of hate. He made a stupid mistake. He’s just a kid. He’s 20-years-old.”
Federal prosecutors said the four were part of Atomwaffen Division, an organization that achieved notoriety after one of their former members was accused of murdering two of his roommates in a New Tampa townhouse.
The latest criminal case involved four people in different states who prosecutors said conspired online to threaten specific people. The targets included the editor of a Jewish publication, two people associated with the Anti-Defamation League, a Seattle journalist and a Tampa journalist.
The Tampa journalist is not identified in the criminal complaint. While under surveillance in late January, Parker-Dipeppe and another person visited what they thought was the journalist’s home and affixed a poster to the front of it. The poster featured swastikas and bold text that read “WE ARE WATCHING WE ARE NOONE WE ARE EVERYONE WE KNOW WHERE YOU LIVE DO NOT F--K WITH US.”
The bottom featured a hazard symbol often included on Atomwaffen materials, and the words “YOU HAVE BEEN VISITED BY YOUR LOCAL NAZIS.”
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.
Parker-Dipeppe has roots in New Jersey, but now lives in Spring Hill. A person who identified himself as his stepfather declined to comment when reached via phone late Wednesday. The owner of a Spring Hill home listed as Parker-Dipeppe’s address hung up when a reporter called Thursday morning.
Mark Remley, the father of one of his friends, said Parker-Dipeppe told him on Monday that he’d recently left two “groups,” but Remley didn’t know if they were hate groups. Remley considers him a “third son,” and he couldn’t believe the allegations that hate had driven him into neo-Nazi circles.
His mother was putting him through college, Remley said, and the 20-year-old wanted to pursue a career in law enforcement.
“He is a foolish, foolish kid looking for somebody to accept him,” he said
Erik Rietheimer, who graduated high school with him in 2017 in New Jersey, said Parker-Dipeppe started posting hate-filled messages about a year ago on social media. Those postings shocked his circle of friends.
“Those were his views and he was allowed to share them,”’ Rietheimer said on the telephone from New Jersey. “It all happened in the last year. After that, we all stopped talking to him.”
Rietheimer said Parker-DiPeppe didn’t get involved with sports or other extracurricular activities in high school and worked at a pizza shop while in school and after graduating.
The criminal complaint mentions another Atomwaffen member with whom Parker-Dipeppe is said to have collaborated. But that person has not been arrested. He is referenced in the complaint only by the name “Lazarus,” a moniker he used to communicate in an encrypted internet chat with other group members.
Parker-Dipeppe used the name “Azazel,” the complaint states. It describes “Lazarus” as the leader of the Florida portion of the effort, with Parker-Dipeppe as the “second.”
In the chats, they spoke with Cole, Shea, Garza, and others about the plot, which they dubbed “Operation Erste Saüle." The latter part of the name, translated from German, means “First Pillar.”
Cole is described as one of two men who took over the leadership of Atomwaffen after the group’s founder, Brandon Russell, was sent to federal prison for five years after he pleaded guilty to explosives charges.
Russell was a roommate of Devon Arthurs, another one-time Atomwaffen devotee, who in May 2017 was accused of murdering their other two roommates with an assault rifle in the New Tampa townhouse the four shared. Police found a collection of explosives and bomb-making materials in the townhouse, which were said to have belonged to Russell.
The murders generated a flood of media attention to the group, much of which Cole was unhappy with, according to the complaint. He and other Atomwaffen members began speaking of taking aggressive action against media figures, according to the complaint.
Another Atomwaffen member suggested using a list of members of the Society of Professional Journalists to identify potential targets. Lazarus shared that he had identified three targets, one of whom was Jewish, according to the complaint.
One partial chat transcript quoted in the complaint details a discussion the group had about whether it would be better to mail the posters to their targets or deliver them in person. Lazarus wrote that it would be less threatening to mail them.
“I like the dangerous side more,” Parker-Dipeppe said in a reply.
They mentioned checking houses for security and measures to avoid getting caught.
“We know but you also have to understand we all know what we signed up for,” Lazarus wrote. “So I say we go (through) with the plan but if a house has (too) much security we mail that poster to that house.”
“It will look suspicious especially on me and Lazs end driving with a New Jersey plated car and parking somewhere random," Parker-Dipeppe wrote. “However we’ve gotten away with it in the past too.”
Times senior news researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report.