Only in Florida. A white supremacist man converted to Islam and confessed to killing two of his roommates, who were also white supremacists. A third roommate (and again, white supremacist), who was away during the killings, was also arrested for homemade explosives.
Tampa police arrested 18-year-old Devon Arthurs Friday night, after the young man brought them to the bodies of two men he confessed to killing that very evening, Fox 13 News reported. The Miami Herald reported that Arthurs told police he killed his roommates “because they disrespected his new-found Muslim faith.” As he was arrested, Arthurs made several references to “Allah Mohammed.”
Around 5:30 p.m., Arthurs came into the Green Planet Smoke Shop near his apartment, wielding a gun and announcing that he had killed two people. He reportedly said he was upset “due to America bombing his Muslim countries.” He also warned employees not to leave the store, but the shop’s manager was able to break away and call the police.
“He came in there with a gun, never faced it at [the employees],” manager Fadi Soufan told Fox 13 News. Arthurs started “telling them the world’s corrupt, crazy stuff like that, and that he just shot someone.”
Police officers came and took Arthurs into custody, but then he told them where to find the bodies. He also reportedly added, “I had to do it. This wouldn’t have to happen if your country didn’t bomb my country.” Officers identified the victims as 22-year-old Jeremy Himmelman and 18-year-old Andrew Oneschuk. Investigators reported that all three of the men lived in an apartment together.
In a press release, the Tampa Police Department announced that “due to concerns about possible explosives, the Tampa Police bomb squad and the Tampa Fire Rescue Hazmat team worked through the night to ensure that it was safe to enter the condominium.”
Arthurs was booked into the jail early Saturday, and faces first-degree murder and kidnapping charges.
But the story gets crazier. On Sunday afternoon, police arrested a fourth roommate, Brandon Russell, whom Arthurs also identified as a white supremacist. According to Arthurs, this man had participated in neo-Nazi chat rooms where he “threatened to kill people and bomb infrastructure,” according to the FBI report.
Inside Russell’s bedroom, police found a framed photograph of Timothy McVeigh, the convicted and executed bomber responsible for attacking the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City on April 16, 1995. They also found Nazi and white supremacist propaganda, and radiation sources — thorium and americium.
In the garage, FBI and police found a white cake-like substance that tested positive for hexamethane triperoxide diamine (HMTD), a precursor to many types of explosives. Authorities also found empty 5.56-caliber bullet casings with fuses that agents say could be used as detonators of the HMTD. Russell was arrested on possession of unregistered destructive devices and unlawful storage of explosive charges.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Russell faces a maximum sentence of 11 years in federal prison if convicted.
Russell had just returned from duty with the U.S. Army National Guard on May 19 to discover that his roommate, Arthurs, had murdered the other roommates. He told FBI agents he was a “national socialist,” and a member of a group called the “Atom Waffen,” which is German for “atomic weapon.”
Nevertheless, Russell claimed he made the explosives in 2013 for a rocket project he was working on with the engineering club at the University of South Florida — to send balloons into the atmosphere. But FBI Agent Timothy Swanson wrote that HMTD is “too energetic and volatile for these types of uses.”