Tampa police say that 18-year-old Devon Arthurs admitted to the shooting deaths of two roommates Jeremy Himmelman and Andrew Oneschuk , because they were neo-Nazis who disrespected his recent conversion to Islam. Arthurs says he later converted to Muslim, and became angry with the world’s anti-Muslim sentiment. He told police he wanted to bring attention to his cause.
Arthurs was arrested Friday after police say he held hostages at a Tampa smoke shop. Police talked Arthurs into letting the hostages go. Arthurs then led police to the bodies of two roommates in an apartment filled with Nazi and white supremacist propaganda and bomb-making materials. During a subsequent interview with detectives, Arthurs provided specific details about how he killed Himmelman and Oneschuck, including the type of rifle he used and which part of their bodies he targeted.
Arthurs stated that, before he shot his roommates, “he had been privy to neo-Nazi internet sites threatening to kill people, and he had developed a thinking that he should take some of the neo-Nazis with him,” according to the police report.
Another roommate, Brandon Russell, was arrested in connection with the explosive materials found in the apartment.
“Arthurs stated that for some time before the murders, he had been privy to Russell participating in online neo-Nazi internet chat rooms where he threatened to kill people and bomb infrastructure,” reads a complaint obtained by the Tampa Bay Times.
The police report says Arthurs then made references to, “Allah Mohammed!” and told police, “I had to do it. This wouldn’t have had to happen if your country didn’t bomb my country.”
Responding officers found a man crying outside the door in full U.S. Army camouflage. Arthurs told police the man was his roommate and said, “He doesn’t know what’s going on and just found them like you guys did.”
Investigators reportedly found a framed photo of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh in Russell’s bedroom, reports the Tampa Bay Times. Russell allegedly admitted to being a member of a white supremacy group. He told investigators he was in an engineering club and used the explosive materials to boost homemade rockets and send balloons into the atmosphere, the paper reports, but an FBI expert said in the affidavit the materials were too unstable for those purposes.
Russell is an American. But like so many converts to Islam, he believes that his religion commands him to commit treason (as well as murder), and to give his allegiance only to the global umma, not to the nation of his birth and citizenship. He faces two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of aggravated assault and three counts of armed kidnapping.