Richard Holzer is a California native and white supremacist facing federal charges accusing him of plotting to bomb a synagogue in Pueblo, Colorado. He told undercover agents is a former KKK member and a current “skinhead,” the FBI says. Holzer is also accused of planning to poison members of the Colorado synagogue by putting arsenic in their water pipes.
Holzer, 27, was arrested on November 1 on a charge of attempting to obstruct religious exercise by using explosives and fire, according to court documents filed on November 2 in Colorado federal court. Holzer is being held in federal custody pending a detention hearing.
U.S. Attorney Jason Dunn said at a press conference said they stopped, “what we believe to be an imminent threat of domestic terrorism against a Colorado religious institution.” Dunn said FBI agents became aware of “racist, anti-Semitic and threatening statements” made by Holzer on social media. He said Holzer, “repeatedly expressed his hatred of Jewish people and his support of a racial holy war.”
FBI Special Agent-in-Charge Dean Phillips told reporters the investigation into Holzer began after the FBI’s Denver office received a tip about online comments he had made. Phillips said they had “credible information” that Holzer was plotting to harm members of the Jewish community in Pueblo and began an investigation.
“After reviewing multiple social media posts, and utilizing a number of investigatory techniques, we determined that Mr. Holzer did pose a threat to our Jewish community, specifically, we learned that he appeared to be planning to destroy the Temple Emanuel synagogue,” Phillips said. “Our task force used multiple investigative techniques to gather information that led to Mr. Holzer’s arrest late Friday night, including recorded conversations, meetings with undercover FBI agents, exploitation of social media accounts and the execution of a federal search warrant.”
Holzer told undercover FBI agents he was taking part in a “racial holy war,” and said his plot to destroy the Temple Emanuel synagogue in Pueblo was his “mountain.” He said Jewish people are a “cancer” on his community. Holzer was planning to attack the synagogue on November 1 and believed the undercover FBI agents he had been corresponding with and meeting with in the Pueblo area were going to help him, according to court documents.
According to the targeted synagogue’s website, “Temple Emanuel is on the National Register for Historic Places and is the second oldest Synagogue in Colorado. Its construction was completed and dedicated on September 7, 1900. The Synagogue went through a complete renovation in the 1990s and was rededicated in December 2000. Temple Emanuel is a small congregation of 30 families and has a visiting Rabbi from Denver, Colorado who comes to Pueblo twice a month.”
Holzer could not be reached for comment by Heavy and it is not clear if he has hired an attorney. He was being held at the El Paso County Jail in Colorado before being transferred to the Jefferson County Jail. Online jail records show that Holzer has used another name, Rikard Buschmaan.
The Anti-Defamation League has been monitoring Holzer, and his alias, Rikard Buschmaan, since 2016, according to an article posted by the ADL after his arrest.
“ADL’s Center on Extremism has been aware of Holzer’s activities for several years and has shared information with law enforcement on several occasions (unrelated with this case), citing concerns he might be dangerous. He frequently posted online about killing his enemies, sometimes including videos of himself opening and closing a switchblade or flipping a balisong knife,” the organization wrote.
In court documents, an FBI agent wrote that Holzer should be charged because of his “hate crime and domestic terrorism-related activities.” The FBI agent added, “I submit that the evidence developed during this investigation shows that the defendant’s actions meet the definition of ‘domestic terrorism,’ in 18 U.S.C 2331, in that the defendant’s actions involve criminal acts dangerous to human life and are intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population.”
Here’s what you need to know about Richard Holzer:
1. Holzer Began Talking to an Undercover FBI Agent Posing as a Female White Supremacist on Facebook, Where Holzer Had Several Accounts to Promote White Supremacy
According to a criminal complaint written by FBI Special Agent John Smith, the investigation into Richard Holzer began after he began messaging with an undercover FBI agent posing as a female white supremacist on Facebook. Smith wrote that Holzer has “used several Facebook accounts to promote white supremacy ideology and acts of violence, in direct messages and group chats with other like-minded individuals.”
According to the FBI, Holzer’s Facebook posts included:
– On September 3, 2019, Holzer told another Facebook user, ‘I wish the Holocaust really did happen … they need to die.”
– On August 27, 2019, Holzer told another Facebook user, “I Hate them with a passion. I told this nasty Jew to f*ck off or I’ll kill him.”
– On July 17, 2019, Holzer told another Facebook user, “I really would like to go kill a bunch of pedophiles and then die in a cop shootout.”
– On July 11, 2019, Holzer sent the following Facebook message to another Facebook user, “getting ready to cap people.” The message included three pictures. The first picture shows Holzer in a kitchen dressed in clothing displaying white supremacy symbols while aiming a long gun. The second picture shows Holzer sitting with his back to a computer screen while holding a handgun in his right hand and a semiautomatic assault rifle in his left hand. The third picture shows Holzer in what appears to be the same room as the prior picture holding a handgun in each hand, with the barrel of the handgun in his left hand touching his temple.
– On July 5, 2019, Holzer told another Facebook user, “going to kill some spics….there’s too many here (as expected) lol.”
– On May 12, 2019, Holzer sent a video to another Facebook user in which Holzer says, “…I’m just going to get dead by suicide by cop, so literally if I’m going to cause a shootout just die in it.”
On September 28, 2019, the undercover agent contacted Holzer through one of his Facebook accounts and suggested they be friends. “Holzer sent a picture of three buttons showing a swastika and two other symbols associated with white supremacy ideology,” along with pictures of himself wearing clothes with symbols and phrases associated with white supremacy, according to court documents. He told the undercover agent he was a former member of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) and is now a skinhead.
Holzer asked the undercover agent to contact him through another Facebook page and sent a picture of himself with images related to white supremacy and a video of himself putting on a mask, grabbing a machete and saying, “May the god be with me for what I must do,” according to the complaint.
Holzer told the agent he, “went after another pedophile. It’s something that I’ve actually enjoyed doing is killing them.” The FBI presents no evidence that Holzer actually killed anyone. He also sent photos of himself with guns, as well as pictures of himself with people he identified as “skinheads who report to him.”
The FBI complaint states, “Holzer also sent a video of himself showing him holding a knife saying, ‘f*ck antifa.’ Holzer later sent a video of himself urinating on the front door of what appears to be a Jewish center.”
In October, Holzer told the undercover agent he was getting ready for “RAHOWA,” meaning a racial holy war. At a later meeting with the undercover agent and a friend of Holzer’s identified in court documents only as “Skeeter,” Holzer gave the agent, “various white supremacy paraphernalia as gifts,” including “a flag, several patches, a metal Thor’s hammer and a mask.”
He talked about his “hatred of Jewish people,” and said he believes in a racial holy war, explaining that his views come from Matt Hale, a white supremacist who led the Church of the Creator, also known as the Creativity Movement, according to court documents. The FBI said the slogan RAHOWA was created by Hale to “awaken white youth.
The full criminal complaint can be read here.
2. He Told the FBI Agent He Didn’t Care if Any People Were Inside the Synagogue When the Explosives Went Off ‘Because They Would Be Jews’
According to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado, Holzer, “told undercover FBI agents that he wanted to do something that would tell Jewish people in the community that they are not welcome in Pueblo, and they should leave or they will die.”
The U.S. attorney’s office added, “The affidavit states that during a meeting with the undercover agents, Holzer repeatedly expressed his hatred of Jewish people and his support for RAHOWA, shorthand for a racial holy war. Holzer went on to suggest using explosive devices to destroy the Synagogue and ‘get that place off the map.’ The affidavit notes that Holzer’s actions meet the federal definition of domestic terrorism in that his actions involve criminal acts dangerous to human life that are intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population.”
According to the criminal complaint, when he was asked by undercover agents what he would do if anyone was inside the synagogue when he went to blow it up, he said he didn’t care if they died, “because they would be Jews.”
Holzer told the undercover agent that he had hired “a Mexican cook,” nicknamed “Mexican Hitler,” to “hex and poison” the synagogue on October 31, 2018, but the FBI said in the criminal complaint there is no evidence to corroborate his story. Holzer said he paid the cook $70 to put arsenic in the pipes of the synagogue. On October 4, 2019, he sent a video to the undercover agent showing him outside the synagogue and saying he would poison it again because the previous attempt hadn’t worked.
At a meeting with the undercover agent and his friend, “Skeeter,” in October, Holzer said he would try things other than arsenic, like Molotov cocktails, to “vandalize the place beyond repair,” so the city would tear it down, according to the complaint. “I want something that tells them they are not welcome in this town. Better get the f*ck out, otherwise people will die,” Holzer said, according to the complaint.
According to the complaint, “Although Holzer states that he had not planned to hurt anyone, when asked what he would have done if there had been someone inside the synagogue when he arrived that night, he admitted that he would have gone through with the attack because anyone inside would be Jewish.”
3. Holzer Was Arrested on November 1 After Meeting Undercover Agents at a Hotel While Carrying a Knife, a Mask & a Copy of ‘Mein Kampf,’ According to Court Documents
Richard Holzer met with the undercover agent and other undercover FBI agents in October and they told him they would supply pipe bombs. Holzer sent the undercover agent a video on October 19 showing him outside Temple Emanuel, and later, in a phone call, said the attack on the synagogue would be “phase two,” and “phase three,” would be outside Pueblo and “bigger and better.”
According to prosecutors, Holzer was arrested on November 1 after meeting with undercover agents at a hotel.
“Holzer allegedly met with undercover agents posing as fellow white supremacists to discuss a plan to attack Temple Emanuel, then visited the Synagogue together. The affidavit alleges that Holzer then made additional trips on his own to inspect the Synagogue and coordinated with undercover agents to obtain explosives,” the press release says. “On the evening of Nov. 1, 2019, Holzer allegedly met with undercover agents, who provided Holzer with inert explosive devices that had been fabricated by the FBI, including two pipe bombs and 14 sticks of dynamite. According to the affidavit, Holzer planned to detonate the explosives several hours later, in the early hours of Saturday morning, Nov. 2, 2019.”
The FBI said in the criminal complaint that Holzer had a backpack containing a knife, a mask and a copy of “Mein Kampf,” Hitler’s autobiographical manifesto, when he was arrested at the hotel.
Before his arrest, the FBI says Holzer told them, “I wanted to thank each and every one of you for your time here tonight, I want to thank you for your utmost effort. Like, this is a move for our race. One of these days, we’re probably gonna do something where one of us, couple of us even, probably won’t come back.”
When the FBI agents showed Holzer two pipe bombs and two bundles containing seven sticks of dynamite each, Holzer responded, “this is absolutely gorgeous,” according to the complaint. The agents told Holzer the explosives were “high grade” and “functional,” but they were actually inert, according to court documents.
4. He Previously Lived With His Parents in Oxnard, California, Public Records Show, & He Worked at a Grocery Store in Pueblo
Public records show that Richard Holzer previously lived with his parents in Oxnard, California, until recently moving to Pueblo, Colorado. He also lived in Thousand Oaks, California.
It is not clear exactly when Holzer moved to Colorado. He does not appear to have a prior criminal record in California or Colorado. At his first court hearing, it was revealed that he worked at King Soopers, a grocery store, in Pueblo, according to The Denver Channel.
According to the complaint, Holzer sent a message to undercover agents saying, “Sieg Heil brothers,” and an audio message saying that he and “Skeeter,” that he’s “absolutely elated about,” the attack plan,” adding, “I’m honored to be part of history, and more importantly, the future of our folk. Heil.”
Holzer posted a photo on Facebook with the flag of the National Socialist Movement, a Neo-Nazi group that goes by the NSM, according to the ADL, and wrote in the caption that he was an “NSM prospect.” He posted that under his alias, Rikard Buschmaan, and said the photo was taken when he was 17.
The ADL says they have been tracking Holzer for several years.
“In May 2016, Holzer posted Facebook videos of himself marching around Port Hueneme and Oxnard, California, wearing black military-styled fatigues adorned with a mixture of Klan and neo-Nazi pins and patches. Holzer, using the name Rikard Buschmaan, claimed to be part of the Sons of Odin Klavern, a very small Klan group based in South Plattsburgh, New York,” the ADL wrote. “While in California, Holzer recorded video of himself urinating on a synagogue in Thousand Oaks, California. He later posted that video on Facebook.”
According to the ADL, Holder then re-surfaced in Colorado in 2018, and connected with local white supremacists. He participated in the anti-Muslim “March against Sharia” event in Denver in February 2018. The event was attended by William Planer and other members of the now-defunct Traditionalist Worker Party. Planer is accused of attacking Jewish institutions.
According to the ADL, “In October 2018, Holzer posted videos of himself distributing ‘white lives matter’ stickers around Pueblo, Colorado.”
According to the ADL, “He also posted images of himself with racist skinhead Jacob Laskey, who served more than 11 years in prison for throwing rocks engraved with swastikas into a synagogue in Eugene, Oregon, during religious services in 2002.”
5. Holzer Faces Up to 20 Years in Federal Prison if Convicted
Holzer made his first court appearance on Monday, November 4. He was ordered to be held in federal custody without bail pending a detention hearing, which is scheduled for November 7. Holzer asked to have a public defender appointed. Prosecutors indicated they seek to ask for a federal judge to keep Holzer behind bars pending trial.
According to federal law, Holzer faces up to 20 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000 and the possibility of up to three years of supervised release if found guilty of the charge of attempting to obstruct religious exercise by using explosives and fire.
U.S. Attorney Jason Dunn said at a press conference, “As this case demonstrates, the Department of Justice is committed to preventing bias-motivated violence in Colorado before it happens. We were able to thwart this alleged hate crime and act of domestic terrorism only through the outstanding work of the FBI, the Southern Colorado Joint Terrorism Task Force, the national security team in my office and the Pueblo Police Department.”
FBI Special Agent-in-Charge Dean Phillips said the investigation “thwarted an imminent threat to our community and at this point we do not believe there is any remaining public safety threat to the Colorado area. Mr. Holzer will now be afforded an opportunity to explain his actions in our legal system.
“Assistant United States Attorney Julia Martinez and Trial Attorney Michael J. Songer of the Civil Rights Division are prosecuting the case, with assistance from Counterterrorism Section Trial Attorney Erin Creegan of the Justice Department’s National Security Division. The FBI conducted the investigation with the assistance of the Pueblo Police Department and Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado said in a press release.
According to the ADL, “White supremacists continue to pose a serious threat to Jews in the United States – as they do to African Americans, Muslim Americans, Latinx Americans, immigrants, LGBTQ Americans and other communities. In the year since the deadly rampage at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue, at least 12 white supremacists have been arrested for their alleged roles in terrorist plots, attacks or threats against the Jewish community specifically.”
Holzer’s arrest marks at least the 13th white supremacist to be charged. Read more about those cases here.