Terror from the Right
Less than a month after a right-wing extremist allegedly shot to death three police officers in Pittsburgh, a National Guard soldier whose wife said he was "severely disturbed" by the election of Barack Obama killed two Okaloosa County, Fla., sheriff's deputies in a shootout. The April 25 double murder marked yet another deadly incident in a nationwide flurry of right-wing extremist violence and plots in the months leading up to and following the election of the nation's first non-white president.
Okaloosa County Sheriff Edward Spooner said the two deputies, Warren "Skip" York and Burt Lopez, both 45-year-old fathers, were gunned down by Joshua Cartwright, 28, after they attempted to arrest him on domestic violence charges at a shooting range. Cartwright then fled the scene and led police on a high-speed chase that culminated in a raging firefight, during which Cartwright was himself shot to death by law enforcement officers.
Sheriff Spooner said that Cartwright was interested in militia groups and believed the U.S. government was conspiring against him.
Cartwright had that in common with the accused Pittsburgh cop killer, 22-year-old Richard Poplawski, who posted messages to various antigovernment conspiracy websites as well as white supremacist forums like Stormfront in the days before he allegedly donned a bulletproof vest and then ambushed and killed three officers with his AK-47. The deputies were killed as they responded to a domestic disturbance involving Poplawski and his mother.
New information also surfaced recently in the case of two racist skinheads who allegedly planned to go on a multi-state robbery and killing spree before attempting to assassinate then-Democratic presidential nominee Obama.
Daniel Cowart, 20, and Paul Schlesselman, 18, were arrested last October and charged with conspiracy, unlawful possession of a sawed-off shotgun and threatening to kill and inflict bodily harm upon a major presidential candidate, among other crimes.
According to recently released four-page written statements the skinheads gave to federal agents, Cowart was introduced to Schlesselman through a friend when he was trying to sell a rifle. "Our convo's [conversations] quickly came to talking about general racist stuff," Schlesselman stated. "As our trust grew we talked about more extremist type things like killing people. I talk about this **** all the time but talken [sic] to daniel [sic] it seemed like we could do it."
Unfortunately, nothing like that happened to avert a mass killing plot carried out last July by unemployed truck driver Jim David Adkisson, who opened fire in a Unitarian church in Knoxville, Tenn., because, he said, it harbored gays and multiracial families. Armed with a shotgun, Adkisson killed two people and seriously wounded six before being tackled and held for police.
In March, law enforcement authorities released a suicide note that Adkisson, whose lawyer recently announced plans to enter a guilty plea, left in his car outside the church. In it, he describes the attack as "a hate crime," "a political protest" and "a symbolic killing."
"I'd like to encourage other like-minded people to do what I've done," he concluded. "If life ain't worth living anymore don't just kill yourself. Do something for your country before you go. Go kill liberals."