For as long as we can remember, humans have been using ideology as a reason for killing their fellow man. Young, angry men in particular hide behind ideology in order to justify any homicidal urges they may have. These young men are fed propaganda, lies, and misinformation that only serves to reinforce their prejudices and their hate.
More often than not, this hate leads to violence.
For one 18-year-old in Tampa, Florida, extreme ideology was a reason to get up in the morning. Whether it was white supremacy or jihadism, this kid was just angry enough to let it become his reality.
On May 19, 2017, sometime in the evening, Devon Arthurs walked into a smoke shop and held three people, two customers, and an employee at gunpoint. “Do me a favor and get on the f— on the ground!” Arthurs was reported to have yelled. “Why shouldn’t I kill you?”
Not long after police arrived on the scene, Arthurs freed the hostages and surrendered. As he was placed in cuffs he repeated, “Allah Mohammed.” The 18-year-old admitted that he had converted to Islam. “I had to do it. This wouldn’t have had to happen if your country didn’t bomb my country.”
But it didn’t end there.
When police asked if anyone else had been hurt, Arthurs answered, “The people in the apartment, but they’re not hurt, they’re dead.”
Arthurs then led police back to his apartment where they found the bodies of Jeremy Himmerlman, 22, and Andrew Oneschuk, 18. Both had been shot multiple times in the upper body and head.
Police also found Nazi and white supremacist propaganda; a framed picture of Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber; explosives, radioactive material, firearms, ammunition, bomb-making material, and a “white cake-like substance” which was later found to be HMTD (hexamethylene triperoxide diamine).
Outside of the apartment, a young man was crying, Brandon Russell. “That’s my roommate,” Arthurs told police. “He doesn’t know what’s going on and just found them like you guys did.”
Russell, a member of the Florida National Guard, admitted to being a “national socialist,” or “Nazi” if you’re into the whole brevity thing. He was also a member of a neo-Nazi cell called Atomwaffen, German for “atomic weapon.”
As far as motive is concerned, Arthurs told police that “all of them had been friends with a common neo-Nazi belief,” until he converted to Islam. If you’re surprised that someone associated with white supremacy groups would suddenly convert to Islam, you’re not alone.
In an effort to convert more people to his new faith, he would log onto neo-Nazi chat sites and share what they call “Moslem terror propaganda.” It has not been confirmed whether Arthurs actually converted to Islam. It’s not clear if he’s even been inside of a mosque.
“Allah Mohammad,” what Arthurs had yelled to police after the stand-off, is not a Muslim phrase. He had become angry by international treatment of Muslims and wanted to bring attention to that cause. He believed that his roommates were disrespecting his faith, he couldn’t just sit back and take it. He had to do something. He had to show them. He had to kill them.
So that’s what he did.
During a traffic stop a few days later, Russell was arrested and charged with possession of an unregistered destructive device and the unlawful storage of an unregistered destructive device and the unlawful storage of explosive material.
Arthurs is currently being held without bail at Hillsborough County Jail on two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of aggravated assault, and three counts of armed kidnapping. His court hearing has just been rescheduled for next month.