Richard Holzer, 27, was arrested for plotting a bomb attack on a Colorado synagogue. Photo courtesy El Paso County Jail
Nov. 4 (UPI) -- FBI agents arrested a Colorado man for plotting a bomb attack on a Pueblo synagogue earlier this month.
A criminal complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado said that Richard Holzer, 27, was arrested on Friday, on one count of attempting to obstruct religious exercise by force using explosives and fire for targeting the Temple Emanuel synagogue in Pueblo.
The complaint states that beginning in September, undercover FBI agents had been communicating with Holzer and tracking multiple Facebook accounts which he used to promote white supremacist ideology, including discussing acts of violence against Jewish people in "direct messages and group chats with other like-minded individuals."
On Sept. 28, an undercover FBI agent contacted Holzer through a Facebook account posing as a white woman who was supportive of white supremacist ideology.
Holzer sent the FBI agent multiple pictures of himself wearing clothing that included symbols and phrases associated with Nazi and white supremacist ideology as well as posing with firearms and other weapons.
In later correspondence, Holder said he paid a cook to "hex and poison a local synagogue" by placing arsenic in the water pipes on Oct. 31, 2018, and on Oct. 3, 2019, told the FBI employee he was getting ready for another racial holy war.
Holzer said he planned to poison the Synagogue again on Thursday, but after meeting with undercover FBI agents and surveying the synagogue suggested using pipe bombs to "vandalize the place beyond repair."
"He also explained that the attack on the synagogue would be 'phase two' and that 'phase three' would be outside of Pueblo and 'bigger and better,'" the complaint states.
The FBI agents offered to provide the explosives and they met up on Friday where the agents showed him spoof explosives delivered by the FBI and they planned to attack the synagogue at 2:30 a.m. or 3 a.m. on Saturday but they instead arrested him.
Upon speaking to agents at a police station after his arrest Holzer confirmed his plans to blow up the synagogue.
"Although Holzer stated 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," the complaint states.
If found guilty on charges of attempting to obstruct people from their right to freedom on religion through force and the attempted use of explosives, Holzer faces up to 20 years in prison, prosecutors said.
Police chief Troy Davenport said during a press conference Monday that Pueblo is a city of inclusiveness and is a safer place now that Holzer has been arrested.
"Mr. Holzer will now have the opportunity to explain his behavior through our court system in a constitutional way, which in a spirit of irony protects religious freedom as one of its most golden rules," he said.
The Anti-Defamation League said Holzer is the 13th white supremacist to be arrested for plotting an attack or making threats against the Jewish community since last year's attack on Pittsburgh's Tree of Life synagogue that claimed 11 lives.
The ADL, which said it had been monitoring Holzer's online activity since May 2016 and repeatedly shared the information with law enforcement, commended law enforcement for the arrest.
"White supremacists continue to pose a serious threat to Jews and other communities in the United States and in our own backyard as this arrest indicates," ADL Mountain States Regional Director Scott Levin said in a statement. "We commend law enforcement for acting quickly to prevent this individual from engaging in life-threatening violence. No one should have to live in fear of white supremacy, simply because of who they are or where they pray."