The 27-year-old white supremacist charged with a federal hate crime for allegedly plotting to bomb a Colorado synagogue had been known to law enforcement for years due to his frequent, neo-Nazi postings on Facebook, including a video of himself urinating on a California temple.
Federal authorities arrested Richard Holzer on Friday after he met with undercover FBI agents believing he would obtain explosives to bomb the Temple Emanuel Synagogue in the southern Colorado city of Pueblo. According to court documents, the suspect called the plan his “mountain” and referred to Jews and the synagogue as a “cancer."
At a press conference Monday, authorities detailed how Holzer repeatedly expressed his hatred of Jews and, using multiple Facebook accounts, posted pictures of himself in neo-Nazi garb and blatantly advocated for racially motivated violence.
In a blog post on Tuesday, the Anti-Defamation League reported that its Center on Extremism had been aware of Holzer's online activities for years and had "shared information with law enforcement on several occasions ... citing concerns he might be dangerous."
Holzer lived with his parents in several cities in Ventura County, California, most recently a mobile home park in Oxnard, according to public records, before surfacing in Colorado sometime in 2017, Scott Levin, the ADL's Mountain States director, told BuzzFeed News.
Holzer's parents and family members did not respond to calls or emails.
In May 2016, Holzer, using the alias Rikard Buschmaan, "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," the ADL said and wrote about wanting to kill his enemies. In March 2018, Holzer recorded a video of himself urinating on the door of Chabad of Thousand Oaks and then posted it on Facebook, drawing the attention of the Ventura County Sheriff's Office.
"Detectives called me because he's an idiot who posts everything he does online and they called me, thank God, and said that they looked into him," Rabbi Chaim Bryski told BuzzFeed News.
"Detectives said that he was a known white supremacist but that he left, that he's not dangerous," the rabbi said. "It's really good news that they got him."
In an email sent earlier this year to Bryski and reviewed by BuzzFeed News, a detective with the Ventura County Sheriff's Office described Holzer as "a known white supremacist who used to reside in our county and has been associated with white supremacists groups in the past which are no longer operating."
Jeff Miller, the Ventura County Sheriff's detective who investigated the Chabad incident, told BuzzFeed News he saw the video, which had been posted in January in2018 but recorded earlier, and tracked Holzer to Colorado. Authorities, however, never apprehended him.
"We were actually never able to locate him out there because he was living as a transient," the detective said. "We had a search warrant report number, but there was never a police report."
The ADL also said Holzer had been associated with the white supremacist movement for a long time, allegedly linking up with other well-known racists and skinheads like Jacob Laskey, who was sentenced to 11 years in prison for throwing rocks etched with swastikas into an Oregon synagogue during services in 2002.
In June 2017, the ADL reported that Holzer had participated in an anti-Muslim march alongside members of the Traditionalist Worker Party. In October of the next year, he posted videos of himself handing out "White Lives Matter" stickers in Pueblo.
In one Facebook photo, Holzer claimed to be 17 years old and a prospect of the National Socialist Movement, one of the largest neo-Nazi groups in the US.
"A lot of these guys are inspired by one another and find one another due to the accessibility of information online," Levin, of the ADL, said. "They're able to connect to each other much faster."
A Facebook spokesperson said it was working on gathering information about when Holzer's accounts were flagged and if they had been removed.
Last week, Bryski attended a lecture at a sister Chabad featuring a former neo-Nazi who had "turned his life around."
"I hope that this catching of Richard will also help him change over," the rabbi said. "There's hope that with this police work catching these guys before they do something, that these people find a different way."