Neo Nazi mass shooting admirer arrested with arsenal

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Joined: 25 Aug 2013
Age: 65
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Posts: 30,342
Location: Long Island, New York

16 Dec 2022, 8:08 pm

Gun charges: Savage man sought to join Nazi terror groups, celebrated mass shootings of LGBTQ people

Clad in a black Punisher mask and body armor, the young man provoked concern among those at a Prior Lake firing range this fall as he ran through rapid drills that expelled hundreds of rounds of ammunition in short order.

Within weeks, FBI agents and informants listened as River William Smith idolized as a "hero" the mass shooter behind the attack on a Colorado Springs LGBTQ club. They recorded him discussing his interest in joining neo-Nazi paramilitary groups. And they helped piece together plans that he believed would add explosives and automatic weapons to an arsenal he intended to use against police.

River William Smith.

River William Smith.
Agents on Wednesday arrested the 20-year-old Savage man as he handed over cash to one of the informants in exchange for grenades. They also found him in possession of a pistol equipped to fire fully automatic.

The investigation — which yielded federal criminal charges of illegally possessing a machine gun and attempting to receive and possess destructive devices — saw agents tail Smith to the firing range and informants record his increasingly apocalyptic views about police and minorities.

"Most cops can't shoot. You'd be surprised," Smith allegedly told one of the informants in the case during a text exchange. "We're all going to die. It's not up to me to decide when. So I take it as whenever god says I'm done they'll turn up. And I can put all the training to use. I'm not looking for a big gunfight. But I hated life without guns."

Smith was referring to a 2019 incident when he was 17. At the home he shared with his grandparents in Savage, he fired three rounds from an AK-47-style assault rifle — one of which struck his grandmother in the hand. Police later seized that rifle, two loaded handguns, one .22 caliber rifle and a shotgun from Smith. Police also recovered 15 fully loaded 7.62mm magazines, tactical equipment, full ammunition cans and pistol magazines. At the time, law enforcement also turned up web searches about Hitler and Nazis, videos of gay people being killed and bombmaking instructions.

Smith attracted the attention of the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force this year when a concerned citizen — himself a former police officer who worked at the gun range Smith frequented — called the bureau's National Threat Operations Center in September to report troubling behavior at the range. The same caller already knew of Smith from his past service as a police officer around the time of the 2019 shooting incident.

An attorney for Smith could not be identified on Thursday. Messages were left for relatives of Smith.

According to an affidavit from an FBI agent attached to this week's federal criminal complaint, Smith still lived with his grandparents up until his arrest this week. His grandmother would drive him to the Prior Lake gun range, sitting in her car outside while he fired. She also allegedly bought him at least 1,350 rounds of pistol ammunition this year that he could not yet buy because of his age, according to the complaint.

Agents last month took photos of Smith wearing a full-face Punisher mask while practicing at the range. According to the FBI agent's affidavit, the Punisher logo has been adopted by violent right-wing fringe groups. The agent pointed out that a man who shot and killed 26 people at a Texas church in 2017 donned the same mask, which is also popular with elite military groups.

"The symbol has been referenced as the 'last thing a victim sees,' " he wrote.

The complaint details how text conversations between Smith and a paid FBI informant started on Nov. 15. Smith told the source that he practices shooting "in armor and a helmet cause that's how I'd shoot if I was really in combat."

The next day, a second paid informant spoke with Smith at a gun club range in interviews recorded on audio. They shared neighboring fire lanes as Smith told the informant that he used body armor and rapid firing drills because he was preparing himself to fight police. He said he was dedicated to dying in that fight and did not want his guns taken away again, referring to the 2019 incident.

Smith later discussed buying an auto sear device to convert his AR-15 into a fully automatic weapon, and another one for his Glock handgun, according to the complaint.

He also expressed previous interest in joining a neo-Nazi paramilitary group called The Base, noting the he nearly joined the group and had "a couple buddies that were in." He cited a law enforcement crackdown on the group as preventing him from taking the leap.

On Nov. 22, the informant asked Smith about the recent Colorado Springs shooting at an LGBTQ night club.

"I think the guys a hero," Smith messaged the informant via social media. "I'm pro mass shooting in general."

"But they always get caught or killed," the informant challenged. "And the media get to call them terrorists."

"I would never do one. Well maybe," Smith replied. "Like if I was compromised by the police everyone I don't know [is] getting a few rounds just for fun. But I'd never seek it out."

He further wrote, "yeah I'm not a mass shooter. The only people I'd ever kill have guns and body armor as well."

He later added that he would "die before ever being handcuffed again."

On Dec. 5, he messaged the informant that he had not slept in 24 hours because he was "just learning about my enemy watching police bodycam shootings on YouTube."

Smith was arrested Wednesday after agents provided a second informant three inert hand grenades and three auto sears. Law enforcement supervised a meeting between the two, during which Smith handed over $690 in cash in exchange for the devices, after which he was taken into custody. At the time of arrest, Smith had a Glock handgun with a bullet in the chamber, two full magazines, and was wearing soft armor

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Joined: 21 Feb 2011
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17 Dec 2022, 8:05 pm

And this illustrates why the FBI classify right wing gun MAGA gun owners as the most dangerous threat to US national security and personal safety.