Seattle authorities seized nine military-style firearms from a well-connected member of a deadly neo-Nazi hate group in a move authorities are saying may have prevented a slaughter.
“We actually, I firmly believe, prevented a massacre,” Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes said, according to KING 5 News.
Kaleb J. Cole, a suspected Washington leader of the hate group Atomwaffen Division, has not been charged, but he is listed in an Extreme Risk Protection Order filed earlier this month in King County court, the news station reported Thursday.
It’s the first time federal authorities have sought the protection have sought in Washington, and it’s believed to be one of the first instances in the nation, KING 5 News reported.
Officials seized Cole’s weapons last month, according to records The New York Times obtained from a prosecutor’s office Thursday.
Federal officials, who have reportedly been watching Cole for some time, were waiting for the man when he landed at Chicago O’Hare International Airport after a trip to Europe last year, according to the newspaper.
Authorities found in his luggage a “trefoil flag” of a hate group and discovered a photo on his phone of two people posing at the site of the Auschwitz death camp, the newspaper reported.
“This was an individual who had access to firearms and was preparing for a race war,” Kimberly Wyatt, a prosecutor in King County, told the New York Times Thursday.
The weapons seizure followed a judge’s order requiring Cole to surrender his weapons to police.
“Kaleb Cole poses a serious threat to public safety by having access and possession to firearms and a concealed pistol license,” prosecutors and the FBI wrote to the judge in paperwork KING 5 News obtained.
Atomwaffen, which is German for “atomic weapon,” got its inspiration from Adolf Hitler and Charles Manson, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
It defined the group as “a series of terror cells that work toward civilizational collapse.”
“Members, who can be fairly described as accelerationists, believe that violence, depravity and degeneracy are the only sure way to establish order in their dystopian and apocalyptic vision of the world,” Southern Poverty Law Center said on its website.
Members of the organization have been charged in five murders in other states, and the organization aims to trigger a race war, KING 5 News reported.