FBI: Suspected white supremacist wanted to blow up Colorado synagogue

Richard Holzer, 27, was arrested Nov. 1 after admitting that he planned to blow up a Colorado synagogue, according to the FBI. (El Paso County Sheriffs Office) (WDIV)

PUEBLO, Colo. – A suspected white supremacist was arrested last week after planning to bomb a Colorado synagogue, the FBI said Monday.

Richard Holzer, 27, is charged with attempting to obstruct religious exercise by force using explosives and fire, a hate crime.

Jason Dunn, U.S. Attorney for the District of Colorado, in a news conference Tuesday described Holzer’s alleged crimes as “an imminent threat of domestic terrorism.”

"Mr. Holzer repeatedly expressed his hatred of Jewish people and his support of a racial holy war,” Dunn said. “After being contacted by undercover FBI agents posing as fellow white supremacists, Mr. Holzer indicated that he wanted to do something that would let Jewish people in the Pueblo community know that they are not welcome, and that, according to him, they should leave or they will die.”

Dunn said Holzer wanted to use explosive devices to “destroy” Temple Emmanuel in Pueblo. The synagogue was built in 1900 and is on the National Register of Historical Places. It has a small congregation, reports the Colorado Sun.

In September, an undercover FBI agent began communicating with Holzer through a Facebook account that portrayed her as a white female in support of white supremacist ideology, according to an arrest affidavit obtained by CBS Denver. Holzer reportedly told the agent he was “a skinhead” and former member of the Ku Klux Klan. He also sent photos showing himself wearing clothing featuring white supremacy symbols, the affidavit said.

On Sept. 28, Holzer allegedly sent the FBI agent a video of himself urinating on the front door of what appeared to be a Jewish center. On October 3, he allegedly told the agent that he was getting ready for a racial holy war and that he was going to Temple Emmanuel to “scope it out.”

On Oct. 17, Holzer met with three undercover FBI agents at a restaurant in Colorado Springs, where he suggested using Molotov cocktails to attack the Pueblo synagogue, according to the affidavit. Holzer then told the agents he’d need something stronger, and they told him they could obtain pipe bombs and dynamite from out of state.

The agents continued communicating with Holzer, sending him photos of what appeared to be pipe bombs, which Holzer said were “absolutely gorgeous." Holzer repeatedly affirmed that he was prepared to go through with the attack, according to the affidavit.

On Nov. 1, Holzer met three undercover agents at a hotel, where he was shown pipe bombs and dynamite. It was then that he was placed under arrest, officials said.

Holzer admitted that he had been planning to blow up the synagogue that night with the explosives, but that he did not plan to hurt anyone, according to investigators.

"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 affidavit said.

Holzer made his first court appearance on Tuesday, the Sun reports. He faces up to 20 years in federal prison.

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Brian is an Associate Producer for ClickOnDetroit. He graduated from the University of Michigan-Dearborn with a degree in Journalism and Screen Studies.