Tampa, Florida — Sometime around 5:30 in the evening a young, thin looking man walked into the Green Planet Smoke Shop nestled in a somewhat affluent neighborhood of north Tampa. This young man barely 18 years old whose face, contorted in a deep scowl and full of anger was Devon Arthurs. Arthurs reached for a semiautomatic pistol tucked into the back of his pants, pointed it at the woman behind the counter and a customer and declared; “Do me a favor and get the [expletive] on the ground!” Barely coherent, Arthurs pointed his weapon at another patron and asked him “Why shouldn’t I kill you?!” No one up to that point knew that Devon Arthurs had just killed two people in cold blood mere minutes before storming into the local smoke shop. And now the young man had just taken hostages.
SOFREP was able to obtain the affidavit from the Tampa Bay police in which officers responded to what was reported as an armed robbery in progress with a possible hostage situation. As officers arrived on the scene one of the hostages, a customer was able to run out the door and informed the police that a young man was in the smoke shop with a pistol was highly aggressive and threatening to kill the remaining hostages due to him being angry that “America was bombing his Muslim countries.”
The two responding officers set up a perimeter and began negotiating with Arthurs convincing him to let his hostages go and give up peacefully. Arthurs was placed in hand-cuffs with little fanfare, yet while being taken to one of the patrol cars, Arthurs began shouting praises to Allah and Mohammad while proclaiming “I had to do it. This wouldn’t have happened if your country didn’t bomb my country!”
The arresting officer was confused by these statements due to the thin, young white male being so adamant about defending his Muslim country didn’t make sense asked simply; “Is anyone else hurt?” Arthurs confessed cryptically “[T]he people in the apartment, but they aren’t hurt, they’re dead.”
Arthurs directed the arresting officers to The Hampton at Tampa Palms Apartments. Other responding officers made their way to apartment #3723 and found a young man dressed in full U.S. Army Combat Uniform, or ACU’s. The young man identified later as Brandon Russell was weeping and shaking outside of the apartment Arthurs had confessed to killing two people within. Arthurs from the back of the patrol car yelled out; “That’s my roommate. He doesn’t know whats going on, he just found them like you guys did.”
Russell a member of the Florida National Guard had just returned home from monthly training and found his other roommates, Jeremy Himmelman, 22, and Andrew Oneschuk, 18, who were shot in the head and upper chest. Arthurs informed detectives that he personally knew both victims and Russell personally, and informed Tampa police that all of them were white nationalists; Neo-Nazi’s belonging to a group known as ‘Atomwaffen’ which translates to “atomic weapons” in German.
Arthurs continued his confessional by claiming that all of them to include himself had been active members of the Atomwaffen and shared their white nationalist beliefs until Arthurs converted to Islam, aligned himself with pro-Salafist, pro-ISIS sentiment and became angered at the anti-Muslim rhetoric his Neo-Nazi friends were spewing on an online chat forum called ‘Iron March’ where Atomwaffen has a forum page and decided to kill them for “disrespecting his beliefs.”
Officers who entered the apartment began noticing obvious signs that the occupants were in fact affiliated with white nationalist extremism and upon further investigation of the apartment and its attached garage found multiple bomb-making materials such as: potassium chlorate, potassium nitrate, more than a pound of ammonium nitrate with Russell’s name and address on it to a cooler of highly volatile white powder like substance known as HMTD, or hexamethylene tiperoxide diamine with what bomb technicians called “home-made detonators” laying next to all of these materials.
Russell, who goes by the nom de plume “Odin” on the Neo-Nazi chat forum confessed to being a white nationalist and according to Odin’s chat postings on Iron March is the possible ringleader of Atomwaffen. Russell’s room was full of Nazi and white nationalist propaganda that he and his Neo-Nazi pals would actively distribute to local college and university campuses in the Tampa area. The icing on the cake if you will was the framed photograph of none other than Timothy McVeigh, who blew up the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995. McVeigh’s bomb was comprised of the some of the very same material found within the garage that Russell was renting.
Tampa police called in the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Russell was arrested on a FBI warrant and charged with possessing an unregistered destructive device and unlawful storage of explosive material. The FBI spokesperson declared this as an ongoing active investigation and refused to comment any further.
Arthurs, who told investigators that he has knowledge of potential Neo-Nazi threats to do harm and kill people seems to be playing ball with the investigation. Members of the Iron March online chat group took to the web to express their anger at young Arthurs in a series of chat streams where some are hoping Arthurs “gets destroyed in prison” to proclamations of knowing that Arthurs was a known ISIS supporter.
Whatever the motivation of Devon Arthurs used as his battle cry to kill two other people; he, like the rest of his generation are in revolt. They are angry and feeling left out, marginalized. This generation has grown up in turbulent times with war, the constant threat of the ISIS boogeyman by the media, and racial tensions being the daily political and social division lines. They are picking sides now.
And some of these young people are beginning to have identity crisis’ and its manifesting not of whiny millennial angst, but into violence. So, instead of diving into the latest fidget spinner craze or even becoming a full adult man with a life and a maybe even a family, Arthurs now faces two counts of first degree murder, two counts of aggravated assault, and three counts of felony kidnapping. He will going away for a very long time, and he will only become more marginalized and angry at the world.
Images courtesy of the author