A federal judge and prosecutors said a New York man sentenced to eight years in prison for illegal gun possession purchased the weapons with anti-Black racist violence in mind.
Authorities said the weapons were found after they picked up Stephen Pattison for a parole violation in Hilton, a small town outside of Rochester. Pattison was convicted of second-degree domestic violence in Missouri in 2016 and had a history of committing racially-motivated crimes.
Police found two guns, 25 rounds of ammunition, a tactical vest with an expandable baton and knife, and items with white supremacist and Nazi paraphernalia when they went to Pattison’s home in November 2020. Months before, Pattison had threatened to kill Black Lives Matter protesters and said he was ready for a “Racial Holy War.”
U.S. District Judge David Larimer said Monday in Pattison’s sentencing hearing that the weapons were a “part of a racist agenda.”
“Your views about white supremacy, Nazi views, racist language — they … factor in, too, when one considers the purpose for possessing the guns,” Larimer said.
Federal prosecutors said Pattison is a supporter of “white supremacist ideology” who “frequently expressed” racial hatred for BLM and Antifa and “sometimes violently expressed” his disagreement with local protests in Rochester over the deaths of George Floyd and Daniel Prude. Court documents show Pattison said he planned to shoot protestors “if they came to his neighborhood.”
“Go ahead n***, defund the police so . . . I can just start (expletive) murderin’ you all in a genocidal rate by (expletive) myself,” Pattison wrote. “They’ll be callin’ me the angel of death. They’ll be callin’ me the new Josef Mengele.”
Mengele was a Nazi doctor who killed dozens while conducting human experiments in concentration camps.
Pattison, who posed for a picture in front of a banner for international neo-Nazi group, Blood and Honour, had a record of misdemeanors for terrorizing Black people and other minorities.
Pattison was convicted in 2009 of a hate crime after he broke a victim’s patio furniture, threw it at the victim’s home and called them the N-word. In 2018, Pattison reportedly was asked to leave a pub for yelling racist epithets.
Prosecutors said he shattered a vehicle mirror in the parking lot, waved a hunting knife at a victim, and said, “I will kill everyone in this house, and I will kill myself before going back to prison.”
As a felon, Pattison was not allowed to have firearms. He pleaded guilty to weapons charges, which usually leads to a sentence of 46 to 57 months in prison with the judge’s discretion. However, prosecutors could raise the threshold because of his admission to guilt.
They had asked Larimer to sentence Pattison to 10 years in prison because of his past crimes.
His defense attorney argued that there was no evidence that Pattison intended to use the weapons for violence and instead bought them out of fear of being harmed by protesters.
However, the judge said the protests were miles away, and sentencing guidelines could not truly weigh the seriousness of his past racist offenses or his likelihood to commit new ones, the Democrat & Chronicle reported.
“Violence seems to be your middle name,” Larimer said, noting that Pattison has the word “violence” tattooed on a hand.
Pattison admitted that he told his girlfriend to lie to authorities and testify that the weapons were not his. Authorities said he also tried to persuade other people to take the fall for him and asked Donald O’Shier, the man who gave him the gun and ammunition, to back up his story while in jail. O’Shier was also charged.
Pattison’s sentencing comes nine days after a white supremacist killed 10 Black people about an hour and a half away in Buffalo.
“When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time,” Larimer said, quoting a line from Black poet Maya Angelou.
“I guess that’s not someone whose works you follow,” he said, reportedly suggesting the white supremacist read Angelou’s writings in prison.