Since 9/11, more than 50 people have been killed and dozens injured in attacks by domestic extremists, including white nationalists, militias and sovereign citizens. Some of the victims were chosen at random; others were targeted. Many were law enforcement officers.
In addition to the deadly attacks, scores of other violent incidents have involved schemes to assassinate judges and other public officials; possession of hand grenades and other explosive devices; and plots to poison water supplies and blow up synagogues, government buildings, banks — and even a Martin Luther King parade route.
The number of victims may seem miniscule when compared to the total number of homicides in one year. But when it comes to extremist attacks, the impact reaches well beyond the list of those who lost their lives. The violence accomplishes the perpetrators’ ultimate goal: to instill terror in entire communities or classes of people.
Defining what constitutes a domestic extremist attack can be difficult, and few organizations’ lists are identical.
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The Star’s list follows the definition of domestic terrorism used by the FBI, which does not include attacks on American soil by those who live here but are inspired by violent jihadist groups based abroad. Therefore, the Boston Marathon bombing and Fort Hood shootings are not included.
The Star compiled its list based on news reports, court documents and information gleaned from the New America International Security Program; the Global Terrorism Database, managed by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism at the University of Maryland; the Southern Poverty Law Center’s “Terror from the Right” report; and the Anti-Defamation League’s “Terrorist Conspiracies, Plots and Attacks by Right-wing Extremists, 1995-2015” report.
Four days after the 9/11 attacks, Mark Stroman — a white supremacist and member of the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas — walked into a convenience store in Dallas and shot the clerk to death because he thought the man was an Arab.
In fact, 46-year-old Waqar Hasan was a Pakistani immigrant. A few days later, Stroman shot and wounded a Muslim Bangladeshi immigrant. And a few days after that, he killed 49-year-old Vasudev Patel, an Indian immigrant, at a Shell station in Mesquite, Texas.
Stroman dubbed himself the “Arab slayer” and said his actions were a patriotic response to terrorism.
He was convicted, sentenced to death and executed in 2011 over the objections of his second victim, Rais Bhuiyan, who had forgiven his attacker after a pilgrimage to Mecca. Stroman renounced hatred as he was about to die.
Patel had moved to Dallas from India in 1982, and the woman he would marry, Alka, followed in 1987. They opened the gas station and worked there together. They had a son and daughter. Alka Patel had to do everything alone.
“If it wasn’t for Sept. 11, my husband would still be here,” she told The Washington Post. “Why shouldn’t our families be treated the same? I feel like we all have the same story.”
The couple’s teenage son told the newspaper: “Sometimes I wish there was a reset button in life, to fix the problems in life. I could tell people not to go to the towers. And my father would be here.”
The Bixby family was a bomb waiting to explode.
They deeply distrusted the government, and the fact that authorities planned to take a small strip of their property to widen a highway in western South Carolina infuriated them. On Dec. 8, 2003, that bomb went off.
Highway workers who came to the Bixby property felt threatened, so Sgt. Danny Wilson of the Abbeville County sheriff’s department went there that morning to mediate. Steven Bixby, 36, shot Wilson on the porch with a rifle and dragged him inside, where he soon bled to death.
The next officer to arrive was state Constable Donnie Ouzts. He was fatally shot in the back getting out of his patrol car.
A gun battle raged all day before Bixby and his father, Arthur Bixby, surrendered. Rita Bixby, Steven’s mother, had held officers at bay at another location, threatening to kill them if her family were harmed.
In addition to high-powered firearms, police later found a lot of anti-government literature.
Steven Bixby was sentenced to death. Arthur Bixby was declared incompetent to stand trial because of dementia and died in a mental institution. Rita Bixby, sentenced to life for conspiracy and being an accessory, died a few days after her husband in prison.
Wilson, 37, had been on the force for seven years and had also served in the National Guard. He left a son, four daughters and a granddaughter.
Ouzts, 63, had been on the force for six years and had recently undergone cardiac bypass surgery. The rifle bullet that killed him reopened that incision. He left a wife and two sons.
“As Danny and Donnie are gone from this earth, we will truly miss them,” said the Abbeville County sheriff’s department’s fallen officer memorial page. “We are all stronger because of them, and we give thanks to God that they were allowed to pass our way in life.”
Kenny Anderson had been an armed security guard only a short while when two men entered his MidFirst Bank branch in Tulsa, Okla., in May 2004.
Forty-three-year-old Wade Lay and his 19-year-old son, Christopher, whom he had indoctrinated with his anti-government views, were there to rob the bank so they could buy more weapons to kill their enemies. They had a list of 15 people they considered responsible for the deadly standoffs at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, in 1992 and at Waco, Texas, in 1993.
But Anderson, a short and small man, stood in their way. He took a shotgun blast from Christopher Lay and a handgun bullet from Wade Lay. But before he died, he managed to wound both men, who were later arrested after police followed their blood trail.
“I miss him every day,” Anderson’s older sister, Kim Tryon of Bixby, Okla., said in a recent interview with The Star. “He was where he needed to be to protect lives that he knew he had to take care of. He was where God wanted him to be that day.”
Anderson, who was 36, left behind a daughter who has since grown up and has a son of her own.
“He is still with us in spirit,” Tryon said of her brother. “He has a beautiful little grandson that reminds me of him every day. He will be 2 in August, and he looks just like his grandfather, except he has red hair.”
Christopher Lay was sentenced to life in prison without parole. Wade Lay was sentenced to death, and his appeals are ongoing.
Tryon is looking forward to his execution.
“I plan to be on the front row,” she said. “They didn’t allow family members to sit on the front row at the courthouse because we would influence the jury. So I plan on being on the front row, unless they tell me I can’t, so he can see my face when he dies.”
We’ll probably never know what made 18-year-old Jacob Robida go to a gay bar in New Bedford, Mass., in February 2006 and injure three patrons with a small hatchet and a handgun. Or what then made him drive to Charleston, W.Va., and pick up a female acquaintance.
Or finally what made him drive on to Arkansas, shoot and kill a small-town police officer and then kill the acquaintance before shooting himself mortally in the head.
But Robida left a room in his mother’s house adorned with Nazi regalia and anti-Semitic writings on the walls and a website adorned with swastikas. “I’m interested in death, destruction, chaos, filth and greed,” he wrote on the site.
Massachusetts wanted him for attempted murder and hate crimes.
A couple of days after the bar attack, Robida ran into 63-year-old Jim Sell, a part-time officer in Gassville, Ark., who apparently stopped him on a traffic violation. After killing him, a high-speed chase ended when Robida crashed in Norfolk, Ark.
Jennifer Rena Bailey, 33, was found dead in the car from a shot to the head.
Sell was a Navy veteran and had been in law enforcement for 30 years.
“That officer gave his life basically solving our case,” said the Massachusetts prosecutor. “There is a sense that he is one of us.”
Bailey was a mother of three young boys. Neither her friends nor the authorities think she accompanied Robida because she shared his views. She may have been forced.
“She would never leave her kids,” one friend was quoted as saying in a news report. “I will guarantee she did not know what happened in Massachusetts.”
Bailey, known as Jenn, was remembered as a homemaker and a devoted mother who was always doing favors for others.
“She was too nice and caring and a bit naive,” said one friend. “She was nice to people at times when she shouldn’t have been.”
Linda Kraeger was a retired English professor who once wrote a book about evil and atonement.
Evil killed her in the form of a man with a sawed-off shotgun concealed in a guitar case who attacked a church congregation in Knoxville, Tenn., on a Sunday morning in July 2008 during a children’s play.
Kraeger, 61, and Greg McKendry Jr., 60, were killed. Several others were wounded.
The killer, a 58-year-old unemployed man named Jim David Adkisson, had left a four-page note in his van ranting that liberals should be killed. Because he had no access to liberal leaders, he would kill people who elected them. The Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church, known for being progressive and welcoming, was his chosen target.
McKendry, a church usher, placed himself between Adkisson and others at the church, sacrificing himself and lessening the carnage.
“He stood in front of the bullets, between a child and the gunman, and took the bullet to save the child,” McKendry’s foster son Taylor Bessette said on video later that day. “He’s a great, great, great man. Make sure you let people know that Greg McKendry is a hero.”
McKendry was a chemical engineer. He and his wife, Barbara, were devoted to the church, donating a refrigerator and a water heater. He also left a son and a daughter.
Kraeger and her husband, Duane, had moved to Knoxville from Texas to be near close friends.
“The loss of Linda Kraeger ... is sometimes unbearable,” colleague Joe Barnhart, who also was wounded, said shortly after the shooting. “She was very kind.”
Kraeger once penned her own thoughts on anger: “There’s enough hurt in this world. So, if anger is going to contribute to more hurt, it’s pointless. On the other hand, you do feel it, and you know that it’s an animal reaction. But you don’t feed it.”
Adkisson expected to be killed by police that day. Instead, he was sentenced to life in prison without parole. As for atonement, who can say? He proclaimed in the note he left: “This was a hate crime.”
A father and son team of anti-government extremists — they were happy about the Oklahoma City bombing — was responsible for a December 2008 bomb attack that killed two lawmen and injured a third in Oregon.
Although Bruce Turnidge and his son, Joshua Turnidge, turned on each other at trial, they were both found guilty of aggravated murder and sentenced to death.
State and local police responded to a bomb threat at a bank in Woodburn, Ore. A device was found under some bushes. Bomb technician William Hakim and Woodburn police Capt. Thomas Tennant were examining the device when it exploded, killing both 51-year-old men.
Tennant left a wife, Mary, and two grown daughters and a son. He was remembered as a man who never ended a phone call with his family without saying, “I love you.” Tennant had been in law enforcement for 28 years, and hundreds of first responders attended his memorial.
The police chaplain recalled that Tennant drank his coffee out of a mug with a picture of John Wayne and the words, “Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway.”
Hakim was nicknamed “Wild Bill” and “Detective How Come?” He spoke four languages, decorated his Christmas tree with Star Wars ornaments and was restoring a 1966 Mustang.
He served in the Navy, where he learned to be an explosives ordnance disposal diver. He joined the Oregon State Police in 1997 and became part of the arson and explosives section.
He left a wife, Terri, and a teenage son and daughter.
“We have lost two of our own,” the chaplain said at Hakim’s memorial. “We will grieve, but we will rise up again. Our citizens are counting on us, and we will not let them down.”
Selma Goncalves and her sister came to the United States from Cape Verde to pursue their dreams. Instead, they encountered neo-Nazi white supremacist Keith Luke.
The 22-year-old man invaded the sister’s apartment in Brockton, Mass., in January 2009. He handcuffed her and raped her until Goncalves showed up. Luke shot her as she tried to run away. Then he went back to the sister and shot her several times.
Goncalves, 20, died. The sister somehow survived. While trying to make his getaway, Luke fatally shot a 72-year-old man named Arlindo DePina Goncalves, unrelated, who was known in the neighborhood for gathering aluminum cans in a shopping cart.
After his arrest, Luke told police he had intended to go to a synagogue to kill Jews on bingo night and then planned to shoot himself in the head.
Luke gave a videotaped confession and received two life sentences plus 158 years. He carved a swastika into his forehead and attempted suicide. He died in custody.
“This evil person took the life of my sister Selma forever,” the surviving sister, who was not identified in media reports, told the court. “I will never hug or talk to my sister again. My sister will never graduate from college. My sister will never have children. She will never have a family of her own.
“I will always be a victim of Jan. 21, 2009, but I will now do my best to live as a survivor,” the sister continued. “I would like to thank God for answering my prayers and for allowing me to live. God bless America, Cape Verde and the rest of the world.”
Pittsburgh lost three police officers one Saturday morning in April 2009 at the hands of a 23-year-old who frequented white supremacist websites and expressed anti-government views.
After a night of drinking, Richard Andrew Poplawski came home and got in a fight with his mother about his dogs urinating on the floor. His mom called police. Poplawski put on a bullet-proof vest and grabbed a shotgun, an AK-47 and a .357 Magnum.
Officer Paul Sciullo II, 36, was fatally shot in the head as he approached the front door. Officer Stephen Mayhle, 29, then entered the house and exchanged gunfire with Poplawski. Mayhle retreated outside and was shot to death on the sidewalk.
Officer Eric Kelly, 41, was just off his night shift when he heard radio traffic about the attack and drove to the scene in his personal vehicle. Poplawski ambushed him. Police later counted 23 shots in Kelly’s vehicle. The lawmen lay in their blood during a standoff that lasted nearly four hours.
At Poplawski’s sentencing two years later, Sciullo’s mother, Julia Sciullo, said she and her husband continued to pay their son’s mortgage. “How do you pack away such a dynamic existence?” she asked. “I didn’t want him to be a hero. I just wanted him to be my beautiful son.”
Another mother, Frances Kelly, described her grief. “Pictures of me and Eric continually flash in front of my eyes,” she was quoted as saying. “We can never watch another football game together. He was my only son.”
Mayhle’s father, Ronald, brought the courtroom to tears. “I constantly think of things I should have done, or shouldn’t have done, and things I should have said or shouldn’t have said. Did he know how proud I was of him? How much I loved him? If only I could tell him now.”
Poplawski was sentenced to death.
Burton “Burt” Lopez and Warren “Skip” York were both 44, both fathers, both retired Air Force and both Okaloosa County, Fla., sheriff’s deputies.
They both lost their lives in April 2009 to 28-year-old Joshua Cartwright, who believed the government was conspiring against him and who was said to be “severely disturbed” that Barack Obama was elected president.
Cartwright got laid off and started beating his wife, who fled to the emergency room and called for help. The deputies caught up with Cartwright at a shooting range and tried to arrest him. He resisted. One of the deputies used a stun gun on him until he was on the ground, but he came back up firing a handgun. Both officers were wearing bulletproof vests but still were mortally wounded.
Cartwright fled to neighboring Walton County, where he was killed in a gun battle with authorities.
York had done three tours of duty in the Middle East and was a member of the Blue Angels Motorcycle Club. He left a wife of 18 years and a son.
Lopez was remembered as a big family man with a great sense of humor. He left a wife, two sons and a daughter.
“We did lose two very fine men today,” said Okaloosa Interim Sheriff Ed Spooner.
A spokeswoman said the department was “experiencing a range of emotions, from heartache and disbelief to numbness, that these men were taken from our agency, their family and friends and their communities.”
Fake border agents
Raul Flores opened his family’s door in the middle of the night in May 2009 because the man and woman pounding on it said they were U.S. Border Patrol agents.
They weren’t. Instead, Jason Eugene “Gunny” Bush and Shawna Forde planned to rob Flores, whom they suspected of being a drug smuggler, to get money for their anti-immigration Minutemen American Defense militia.
Flores, 29, lived in tiny Arivaca, Ariz., just a few miles from the Mexican border. When Flores questioned the “agents” about their identities, Bush opened fire, killing him and his 9-year-old daughter, Brisenia Flores, who had been sleeping on a couch with her puppy. The girl had pleaded for her life before being fatally shot in the face.
Flores’ wife and Brisenia’s mother, Gina Gonzalez, also was shot and pretended to be dead on the floor. After the intruders left, she called 911. But while she was on the phone, the killers came back with a third person, Albert Gaxiola. The family knew and had socialized with Gaxiola. Gonzalez managed to shoot Bush in the leg, and the intruders left.
Flores, Gonzalez and Brisenia were all natural-born U.S. citizens. The previous day, the family had driven to Tucson to buy shoes for Brisenia for summer camp.
“My life is ruined,” Gonzalez told jurors. “I now know that evil lives among us, and it comes in many forms. It can even befriend you, gain your trust and kill your family.”
Forde and Bush were sentenced to death. Gaxiola was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
George Tiller understood that he was on the front line in the abortion war.
He had been shot in 1993. His Wichita clinic, where Tiller performed abortions, even late-term ones, was a target of anti-abortion activists who dubbed him “Tiller the Killer.” He took to wearing a flak jacket and driving an armor-plated vehicle.
But Tiller was killed on a Sunday morning in May 2009 in the foyer of his Reformation Lutheran Church in Wichita.
Scott Roeder of Merriam said at his trial that he had driven to Wichita to commit murder. He was arrested on the drive back home, near Gardner. Roeder, then 51, said that killing abortion doctors was an act of justifiable homicide. Roeder, who was associated with the sovereign citizen movement in the 1990s, was sentenced to life in prison in 2010.
Tiller was 67 years old and had been married to his wife, Jeanne, nearly 45 years.
“Today we mourn the loss of our husband, father and grandfather,” the family said in a statement. “Today’s event is an unspeakable tragedy for all of us and for George’s friends and patients. ... This is particularly heart-wrenching because George was shot down in his house of worship, a place of peace.”
In a 1991 interview, Tiller said he was “a willing participant in this conflict. I choose to be here.”
After Tiller’s death, Kansas state Rep. Brenda Landwehr of Wichita, an abortion opponent, acknowledged his humanity.
“You expect to see an individual with horns and a tail,” she told The Star. “Here is a man who looks like any other man. He was a very polite, cordial, soft-spoken individual. He’s still a person.”
At the memorial service, Larry Borcherding of Overland Park said his friend’s “constant challenges over these last decades have been exemplary of his brave, courageous, passionate and dedicated attitude.”
Stephen Tyrone Johns worked as a security guard at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., for six years before he was killed by a white supremacist and Holocaust denier in June 2009.
Johns even opened the door for his murderer, James Wenneker Von Brunn. Johns didn’t see the .22-caliber rifle the 88-year-old man was carrying until it was too late. Johns, a 39-year-old father, was shot at point-blank range.
Other guards returned fire, and Von Brunn was injured. He died while awaiting trial for murder and committing a hate crime. Prosecutors said he wanted to send a message that the Holocaust was a hoax and he wanted to be a martyr to his cause.
Von Brunn had previously been convicted of trying, in 1981, to enter a federal building with weapons to place the Federal Reserve Board of Governors under citizen’s arrest for treason.
Johns was remembered at the time by museum Director Sara Bloomfield as “a wonderful individual ... a truly jovial human being” who “died heroically in the line of duty.”
Johns left a wife, a son and two stepsons. An estimated 2,000 people attended his memorial service. The museum established the Stephen Tyrone Johns Summer Youth Leadership Program, which each year gives 50 D.C.-area high school students an educational internship at the museum.
The Holocaust museum issued a statement after the attack:
“This tragedy is a powerful reminder that our cause of fighting hatred remains more urgent than ever.”
After 9/11, Americans have a special horror of the idea of planes being flown into buildings.
But in February 2010, that’s exactly what Andrew Joseph Stack III did in Austin, Texas. The 53-year-old had a grudge against the Internal Revenue Service for allegedly taking his savings. So he flew a fixed-wing Piper into the IRS building, causing a fireball and killing 68-year-old agency employee and manager Vernon Hunter.
Before the attack, in which he died, Stack set his own home on fire and posted a statement online that said, “Well, Mr. Big Brother IRS man, let’s try something different, take my pound of flesh and sleep well. ... Violence not only is the answer, it is the only answer.”
Hunter was a veteran who had served two tours of duty in Vietnam. His wife also worked at the IRS office, but she was not hurt in the attack.
“My dad didn’t write the tax law,” Ken Hunter was quoted as saying. “No one in that building wrote the tax law. He was full of life. Probably the best teacher I ever had in my life.”
West Memphis, Ark., Police Officer Bill Evans was working drug interdiction on Interstate 40 in May 2010 when he pulled over a van with Ohio plates. Instead of producing a valid license, the driver handed over a “traveler’s card” — a pretty good indication he was a member of the sovereign citizen movement, which rejects government authority.
But Evans didn’t have much time to process that information before a passenger in the van began blasting an AK-47. Fellow officer Brandon Paudert, who had just arrived, was also shot. Both men died. Memorials were held on the same day in the West Memphis High School gym.
The people in the van were 45-year-old Jerry R. Kane Jr. and his 16-year-old son, Joe T. Kane. They were located a short time later in a parking lot and were both killed in a gun battle with law enforcement officers.
Paudert, 39, the son of the West Memphis police chief, had followed his dream to be a police officer and had been on the force for seven years. He had a wife, whom he had known since they were 14 years old, and three children.
Evans, 38, was a nine-year veteran on the force. He had two children and five siblings.
Paudert’s brother, Brian, was quoted in the Memphis Commercial Appeal as saying, “This community and this country need men like this to protect us from evil people.”
Evans’ brother, Jimmy, a West Memphis police lieutenant, said his older brother was happy to be able to give to the community.
“He always wanted to be a police officer, ever since we were kids and we played cops and robbers,” he told The Star this month. “He loved it. That was his dream job.”
Jimmy Evans said the shootings devastated the family.
“Each individual deals with it in a different way,” he said. “I don’t mind talking about it, but some members of the family don’t want to.”
Former Police Chief Bob Paudert, Brandon’s father, said the attack brought the sovereign citizen movement to the forefront: “We’d never heard the term ‘sovereign citizens’ before.”
He said the tragedy has been a nightmare for his family.
“My grandkids have suffered so much,” he said. “They’ve lost their father in a terrible way. My little grandson told me not long ago, ‘I dreamed daddy came home the other night. He always comes in and he rubs his fingers through my hair before he goes to bed. I woke up, and I know he was there.’ I said, ‘Why do you think he was there?’ He said, ‘Because the bed was still warm, and I could smell his cologne right next to me.’”
Todd D. Getgen was a 42-year-old lawyer from Enola, Pa. He also was a firearms enthusiast who liked to visit a rifle range and practice with his AR-15 rifle, worth about $3,000.
Raymond F. Peake, 64, coveted that gun. He wanted to use it in an unidentified organization to overthrow the United States government.
In July 2010, Peake saw his chance at the gun range. Getgen was shot multiple times and killed. The AR-15 was missing when police responded. Police later found it in a storage locker Peake rented. Bullet fragments from the victim matched one of Peake’s guns.
A former state prison guard, Peake pleaded no contest to second-degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Getgen left behind a 6-year-old son and wife, Stella Getgen. She testified that her husband wasn’t perfect but that he had no equal as a father. She read a copy of a note that Ethan had placed in his dad’s coffin. In it, the boy wrote that he loved it when his dad would cook him dinner and read “silly stories” at night and dig holes in the backyard.
“I loved when you took me to Home Depot instead of Toys R Us for my birthday.”
David “Joey” Pedersen, 31, and Holly Ann Grigsby, 24, were a boyfriend and girlfriend who, according to an indictment, promoted a white supremacist movement.
In October 2011, the two went on a three-state rampage that left four people dead.
The first victim was Pedersen’s own father, David “Red” Pedersen, a 56-year-old living in Everett, Wash., with his wife, Leslie “DeeDee” Pedersen, 69.
Joey Pedersen and Grigsby had been visiting his folks in Everett when Pedersen shot his father in the back of the head while they were in the car. They then returned to the couple’s home, where Grigsby bound DeeDee Pedersen with duct tape and slit her throat. She was left to bleed to death.
Red Pedersen, whose body was found in his Jeep in a ravine, was remembered in his obituary as “a proud Marine to the day he died.” DeeDee Pedersen was remembered as “a strong, loving, kind woman who will be missed by many.”
The murderers fled to Oregon, where they crossed paths with 19-year-old Cody Myers of Lafayette, Ore., who was driving to the Newport Jazz Festival. His body was found several days later, shot in the head, in some woods near Corvallis. The killers later told police they thought Myers’ name sounded Jewish.
“Cody was devoted to his family,” his mother, Susan Myers, said at a news conference. “He would have done anything for anybody to help anybody. He had a passion for life, for God, for his beliefs. He didn’t deserve this.”
Continuing on to California, the two killers encountered 53-year-old Reginald Alan Clark, a black man who had moved to Eureka, Calif., to escape the urbanity of the Chicago area.
Clark had overcome homelessness and had saved his Social Security disability money for more than a year to make a down payment on a cherished 1989 Ford pickup truck. He’d only had it two weeks when he was killed.
In his confession, Joey Pedersen said Clark was “a negro with a bullet from my gun in his head.”
Clark was remembered by a once-homeless woman he befriended as “a big teddy bear of a man who loved R&B music, peanut butter cookies and was always smiling, always looking for ways to help those around him.”
When Pedersen and Grigsby were finally arrested, in Myers’ car, they told police they were headed to Sacramento to kill Jews.
Pedersen and Grigsby were both sentenced to life in federal prison, where there is no parole.
Members of an anti-government militia that sprang from the ranks of soldiers at Fort Stewart in Georgia murdered two teens in December 2011 because the leader feared one of them was going to rat them out.
They called themselves FEAR, for Forever Enduring, Always Ready, and they had plans that involved terrorism, assassinations and the overthrow of the government.
Michael Roark, 19, had associated with the group but decided to leave them and the Army. He and his girlfriend, 17-year-old high schooler Tiffany York, had plans to move to the West Coast. He wanted to be a motorcycle mechanic.
But the militia leader, Pvt. Isaac Aguigui, decided Roark must be killed so he could not expose the group’s plans. They lured him and York to a wooded area near the base one night, purportedly for target practice. Instead, both victims were shot in the head at close range. The killers later built a bonfire in an attempt to destroy evidence.
Roark and York had been dating for just a few weeks. They had recently visited his father, Brett Roark, in Florida.
“I just can’t believe how evil these people are and how they stayed in the Army so long without the command structure doing something,” Brett Roark was quoted as saying later.
York’s stepfather, Wesley Thomas, lunged at one of the defendants during the trial, yelling, “You killed my kid!” York’s older brother, Nicholas Lee York, was quoted in the New York Daily News as saying, “I want them gone. I want all of these individuals to disappear. They took something irreplaceable from me.”
Aguigui, along with Sgt. Anthony Peden and Pvt. Christopher Salmon, pleaded guilty and were sentenced to life in prison.
A peaceful place of worship in Wisconsin became a scene of carnage in August 2012 when a man who was into white supremacy and hate music killed six people on a Sunday morning.
Wade Michael Page, 40, ended up shooting himself in the head during a firefight with police.
It happened at a Sikh temple south of Milwaukee as a communal meal was being prepared. Page barged in and began shooting. Satwant Singh Kaleka, the 65-year-old founder of the temple, died while trying to subdue the gunman. FBI agents later told his son that Kaleka was a hero because he gave others time to take cover.
Also killed was 84-year-old Suveg Singh Khattra, a farmer from northern India who immigrated to the United States and spent his days at the temple.
“He don’t have hatred for nobody,” Khattra’s son was quoted as saying. “He loved to be here.”
Brothers Sita Singh, 41, and Ranjit Singh, 49, also were killed, as was Prakash Singh, 39, a priest who had recently brought his wife and two children to the U.S.
“He was the humblest soul I’ve ever met,” a temple member told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Paramjit Kaur, 41, a mother of two grown sons, was deeply spiritual and was just getting up from her morning prayers when she was shot to death in the back. Kaur had made the flatbread for the temple meal the night before.
Her older son said the death took his world away. The younger son later testified before a congressional committee on hate crimes.
“I want to tell the gunman who took her from me, ‘You may have been full of hate, but my mother was full of love,’” he said. “She was an American. And this was not our American dream.”
Jeremy Triche and Brandon Nielsen were sheriff’s deputies in St. John the Baptist Parish, La., when they had a deadly predawn encounter at a mobile home park.
The deputies were investigating a shooting earlier that August 2012 morning in which another deputy was wounded. Triche, 27, and Nielsen, 34, were questioning Terry Smith, 44, and Kyle Joekel, 28, when Smith’s son, 24-year-old Brian Smith, allegedly stepped out of a trailer and opened fire with a semi-automatic rifle. Triche and Nielsen were killed.
The Smiths were members of the sovereign citizen movement, which does not recognize government authority. The Smiths and Joekel are still awaiting trial.
Lester Wilson, a deputy from the Jefferson Parish sheriff’s office, said at Nielsen’s memorial service that the deputy would do anything for anyone.
“Every time you’d see him, he was always uplifted, upbeat about everything,” Wilson said. “Always a smile, always making us laugh.”
Nielsen left a wife and five children. Triche left a wife and 2-year-old son.
Triche’s mother, Edie, goes through photographs with her grandson so he won’t forget his dad.
“Jeremy has missed all the everyday things,” Edie Triche was quoted as saying. “Tucking him into bed, teaching him how to fish.”
Edie Triche had only vaguely heard about the sovereign citizen movement before her son was killed.
She learned that Terry Smith and his sons were being watched by the federal government because Smith had applied for a federal permit to open a gun shop. But investigators lost track of them.
“Every time they got wind of this group, they took off,” Edie Triche told The Star. “They were living right behind my house. It all took place about 100 yards from my house.”
California Highway Patrol officer Kenyon Youngstrom pulled over the driver of a Jeep Wrangler in Contra Costa County because of an obstructed license plate.
A dashcam recording showed a brief conversation before the driver pulled a semi-automatic handgun and shot Youngstrom in the head. A second officer who had just pulled up then mortally shot the driver, later identified as 36-year-old Christopher Boone Lacy.
Investigators found that Lacy had a lot of information on his computers about the sovereign citizen movement. He had visited a website about creating explosives and had a wish list that included bulletproof vests.
Youngstrom, who had a wife and four children, was taken off life support the day after the shooting in September 2012. He was 37. His organs were donated.
Youngstrom, one of a set of triplets, had always wanted to be a law enforcement officer. He had been on the force for seven years. Before that, he had served in the Army Reserve.
“Officer Youngstrom was a giving man,” Patrol Capt. Jonni Fenner told a newspaper. “A man of great faith. He believed in service and contribution.”
Gov. Jerry Brown issued a statement that said Youngstrom “died protecting the community he served, and we are grateful to him for that.”
Evan Spencer Ebel, a member of a white supremacist prison gang, was on parole in March 2013 when he cut off his ankle monitor and shot two people to death.
His main target was 58-year-old Thomas Clements, head of the Colorado Department of Corrections, which had placed Ebel in solitary confinement. To catch Clements off guard at his home in Monument, Colo., Ebel posed as a pizza delivery man. To obtain a uniform, Ebel killed 27-year-old delivery man Nathan Leon.
A few days later, Ebel, 28, was killed in a shootout with police in Texas, but not before shooting and wounding a deputy who pulled him over. Police later found bomb-making materials in Ebel’s car.
Clements had worked more than 30 years for the Missouri Department of Corrections before taking the Colorado job. He was considered a progressive corrections director who, ironically, worked to reduce the number of inmates in solitary confinement. Clements believed in redemption.
“People try to understand the horror,” his widow, Lisa Clements, told The Denver Post. “Then they try to make some sense of why anyone would target someone who is working for good, who was trying to make an impact on their world.”
Clements also left two grown daughters.
Nathan Leon’s widow, Katie Leon, said he was delivering pizza to earn a little extra cash to support his family of three young daughters. His main job was as a junior library assistant at IBM in Boulder. But he wanted to go to college and had aspirations of becoming a crime scene analyst or psychologist.
“He was my big cheese,” Katie Leon told The Post. “He was my life. I want everyone to know that he was a loving man and that the man that killed him was a monster.”
A dozen years after the 9/11 attacks, the first Transportation Security Administration officer was killed in the line of duty.
That officer was 39-year-old Gerardo Hernandez, who was known for putting travelers at busy Los Angeles International Airport at ease with his humor and his smile.
One morning in November 2013, a man entered Terminal 3 and approached the checkpoint where Hernandez was examining IDs and boarding passes. The man took a semi-automatic rifle from a duffel bag and shot Hernandez 12 times. He also injured two other officers and a civilian before he was wounded and arrested by law officers in a pursuit.
Paul Anthony Ciancia, now 24, is charged with murder. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.
Authorities say Ciancia is an anti-government extremist with a fixation on the TSA. He was arrested with a note that called himself a “pissed-off patriot.”
Hernandez, who was born in El Salvador and came to the United States at age 15, left a wife, a 14-year-old son and a 12-year-old daughter.
“He touched so many lives and was so full of spirit,” family friend Ceasar Perez said at Hernandez’s funeral.
TSA supervisory officer Danielle Arocho said Hernandez “protected his team. He sacrificed his life. He’s our hero. Terminal 3 will forever have a guardian angel looking over it.”
F. Glenn Miller Jr. is an avowed anti-Semite who is charged with murdering three Christians on Palm Sunday.
They were in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Miller, also known as Frazier Glenn Cross Jr., came to Overland Park from his home in southwest Missouri in April 2014 and allegedly shot William Corporon and his 14-year-old grandson, Reat Underwood, outside the Jewish Community Center. Corporon was taking Reat to a singing talent competition there. They never even made it out of the pickup.
Miller then allegedly went to the nearby Village Shalom care center and shot 53-year-old Terri LaManno, who was there to visit her mother.
All three victims died. Miller, who was 73 and had deep ties to the white supremacist movement, shouted “Heil Hitler” as he was being arrested. He is awaiting trial.
Reat was a freshman at Blue Valley High School, where he was active in theater and debate. A Boy Scout, he was working on his Eagle project — organizing a pantry drive for the Operation Breakthrough charity in Kansas City. At his memorial service, his mother, Mindy Corporon, recalled the last kiss she gave her son — a kiss for luck at the talent show.
“Your loving smile and the memory of your hugs will help us make it through life, one day at a time,” she said.
William Corporon, 69, was Mindy’s father and a physician. At his memorial service, son Will Corporon said being a grandfather “fit my dad to a tee. It was perhaps his greatest role. Reat made my father a better man.”
Another son, Tony Corporon, said that “he and Reat met God together.”
Six months before the shootings, LaManno and her husband, Jim, had a joyous reunion with their first-born daughter, whom they had given up for adoption 26 years before. LaManno was an occupational therapist at the Children’s Center for the Visually Impaired.
Another daughter, Alissa, spoke about her mother at the memorial service.
“It’s perfectly normal to be angry,” she said, “but forgiveness is something she taught me since I was a kid.”
Swastika and flag
Jerad and Amanda Miller, a married couple, wanted to spark a revolution when they ambushed and shot to death two Las Vegas police officers during their lunch break at a pizza parlor. Then they left a swastika and a “Don’t Tread on Me” flag with their bodies before heading to a nearby Wal-Mart and causing more terror by firing into the air.
A man in the checkout line, who was legally carrying a concealed weapon, attempted to stop Jerad Miller but didn’t see Amanda Miller, who shot him in the back at close range.
In a matter of minutes in June 2014, Officers Alyn Beck, 41, and Igor Soldo, 31, were dead, followed by civilian Joseph Wilcox, 31.
In short order, Jerad Miller, 31, was killed in a shootout with police inside the Wal-Mart. Amanda Miller, 22, shot herself.
Wilcox was hailed as a hero and awarded a posthumous Medal of Valor by the Las Vegas City Council.
“The day we lost Joseph, our lives changed forever,” his family said in a statement. “Our hearts ache, but we are not alone. Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Officer Beck and Officer Soldo as they, too, try to continue their lives without their loved ones.”
Soldo’s family had immigrated to the United States from war-torn Bosnia, and he grew up in Lincoln, Neb. He was married and had an 11-month-old son.
“He was a good man … a damn good cop, a great dad and a great friend,” fellow officer Scott Vaughan told the Las Vegas Sun.
Beck was married and had three children, including a 10-month-old daughter. He was active in the Mormon church and was close to being promoted to sergeant on the Las Vegas force.
“Renaissance man, carpenter, architect, master chef, defender of musicals … teacher, keeper of promises,” Beck’s brother Joseph said at the funeral.
Beck’s 11-year-old daughter wrote her dad a note on the day he died.
“I wish I could have said goodbye to you,” it read. “I’ll always be thinking of you. I’ll see you in heaven.”
Eric Frein liked guns, and he didn’t like police. On a Friday night in September 2014 in the Pocono Mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania, he allegedly ambushed a state trooper outside a police barracks during a shift change.
Cpl. Bryon Dickson, 38, died after being struck twice from long range with a .308-caliber rifle. A trooper who tried to help his colleague was critically injured.
Frein, a survivalist who held anti-government views and talked about killing law enforcement officers, eluded searchers for 48 days. When he finally was arrested, police used Dickson’s handcuffs and his patrol car to transport Frein.
Police found a message to his parents on Frein’s thumb drive. It said in part: “Tension is high at the moment and the time seems right for a spark to ignite a fire in the hearts of men.”
Frein awaits trial on charges of murder and terrorism. The Pike County prosecutor is seeking the death penalty, even though the governor of Pennsylvania has declared a moratorium on executions in the state.
Dickson left a wife of 10 years, Tiffany, and two young sons. He was a state patrol unit supervisor and had received awards for DWI enforcement. His family remembers him for his sense of humor.
Before the patrol, Dickson had served in the Marines.
“They learn to follow orders right into the face of death,” his mother, Darla Dickson, was quoted as saying, “and that was the precept he took into his job as a state trooper. He knew there was a risk there, and he carried that weight because he knew he had a wife and two small boys. But he was dedicated and worked hard.”
Lying in wait
He lived on a cul-de-sac in a middle-class neighborhood in Tallahassee, Fla., but he was reclusive, held anti-government views and had made threats against police.
One Saturday in November 2014, authorities believe Curtis Wade Holley set fire to the house he was living in and waited for first responders so he could shoot them.
Leon County Sheriff’s Deputy Christopher L. Smith, 47, arrived and was killed almost immediately with a .40-caliber handgun. Holley then walked into the street and kept firing, injuring a second deputy before he was shot and killed by a Tallahassee police officer.
It later came out that because of Holley’s threats, there was a watch placed on his address to warn first responders. Three dispatchers lost their jobs because that warning was overlooked.
Smith had been in law enforcement nearly 26 years and had been a dispatcher. He had been with the sheriff’s office for six years. He left a wife, Erika, and two young children.
Known for his kindness, he was remembered at his packed funeral for helping a suicidal person and a veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Smith loved hunting and Florida State University football.
“He was a loving Christian man who loved his wife and his children most of all,” said the Leon County sheriff’s office website. “Deputy Smith will be greatly missed by his co-workers and all of the LCSO family.”
A woman who lived on the cul-de-sac where the ambush occurred created a small memorial there.
“I say, ‘Good night, Chris,’ every night,” the neighbor said.
The Star’s Judy L. Thomas contributed to this report.