COURT DOC: Southern Colorado Man Sentenced to More Than 19 Years for Plotting to Blow Up Synagogue

October 15, 2020

Richard Holzer, 28, was sentenced to over 19 years in prison, followed by 15 years of supervised release. Holzer previously pleaded guilty to federal hate crime and explosives charges for plotting to blow up the Temple Emanuel Synagogue in Pueblo, Colorado, conduct that constituted acts of domestic terrorism. Holzer told undercover FBI agents that he wanted the bombing to send a message to Jewish people that they must leave his town, ‘otherwise people will die.’

Holzer pleaded guilty to intentionally attempting to obstruct persons in the enjoyment of their free exercise of religious beliefs, through force and the attempted use of explosives and fire, in violation of Title 18, U.S. Code, Section 247, and to attempting to maliciously damage and destroy, by means of fire and explosives, a building used in interstate commerce.

Holzer, who self-identifies as a Neo-Nazi and white supremacist, admitted that he planned to destroy Temple Emanuel, a synagogue in Pueblo, Colorado, that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The planned bombing, which Holzer declared was ‘a move for our race,’ was born from years of Holzer consuming and promoting white supremacist ideology. Holzer regularly used social media to glorify violence and advocate for white supremacy. After an undercover FBI employee contacted Holzer, he sent pictures of himself holding automatic weapons and said he was ‘getting ready for RAHOWA,’ shorthand for a racial holy war.

Holzer talked to associates for months about attacking Temple Emanuel, and he visited the synagogue to observe Jewish congregants. During a meeting with undercover agents to discuss his plans, Holzer repeatedly expressed his hatred of Jewish people and suggested using explosive devices to destroy the Synagogue. Holzer told the undercover agents that he wanted to ‘get that place off the map.’ Holzer further admitted that he coordinated with the undercover agents to obtain explosives, including pipe bombs.

On the evening of Nov. 1, 2019, Holzer met with undercover agents, who provided Holzer with inert explosive devices that had been fabricated by the FBI, including two pipe bombs and 14 sticks of dynamite. Holzer removed a copy of ‘Mein Kampf’ from his bag and told the undercover agents that the explosives looked ‘absolutely gorgeous.’ Holzer admitted that he planned to detonate the explosives several hours later, in the early hours of Saturday morning, Nov. 2, 2019. After his arrest, Holzer explained that ‘The event planned for tonight would define me as a person who would die for his people.’ (Source: U.S. Department of Justice)

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