TAMPA (FOX 13) - An admitted neo-Nazi who found two of his roommates murdered – allegedly at the hands of his third roommate – is now himself under arrest after, agents say, they found bomb-making materials in his garage. Meanwhile, the murder suspect says he committed the crime in the name of his new faith, Islam.
The complicated investigation centers on an apartment off Amberly Drive in Tampa Palms. That’s where Brandon Russell lived, along with Devon Arthurs, Jeremy Himmelman, and Andrew Oneschuk.
Friday afternoon, police say, Russell returned home from his Army National Guard duties to find Himmelman and Oneschuk fatally shot inside the apartment. Arthurs, 18, later told detectives that he had killed the pair after they “disrespected” his religion.
Arthurs, who identified himself as a former neo-Nazi who had converted to Islam, allegedly told police, "I had to do it. This wouldn't have had to happen if your country didn't bomb my country."
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Police took Arthurs into custody, but during a search of the apartment, agents say they found a cooler containing a white cake-like substance that bomb squad technicians recognized as the explosive hexamethylene triperoxide diamine, or HTMD for short. They also allegedly found potassium nitrate and – in a package addressed to Russell – ammonium nitrate, which was a key ingredient in the 1995 Oklahoma City bomb.
Inside Russell’s room, agents say they found unspecified firearms and ammunition, and noted that detectors alerted them to the presence of radioactive thorium and americium. They also claimed to find white supremacist propaganda, including a framed photo of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh on the dresser.
Before asking for an attorney, Russell allegedly told detectives that he was indeed a national socialist and was a member of a self-organized group called the Atomwaffen, which is German for “atomic weapon.” He admitted making the explosives but said they were rocket fuel for a 2013 University of South Florida science club project.
An FBI agent rejected that assertion, though, explaining in the arrest report that HMTD is “too energetic” to be used that way. Separately, Arthurs had told police that Russell often chatted online with other neo-Nazis and had threatened to "kill people and bomb infrastructure."
Agents caught up with Russell in the Florida Keys over the weekend and arrested him on charges of unlawful storage of explosives and possession of an unregistered destructive device. If convicted, the 21-year-old faces up to 11 years in federal prison.
The FBI, meanwhile, declined to comment other than to confirm their participation in the investigation.