Photo by Emiliano BarHire via Unsplash

A Colorado man was sentenced in federal court to over 19 years in prison on Feb. 26 for planning an explosion of a synagogue.

Twenty-eight year old Richard Holzer was sentenced to more than 19 years in prison and 15 years of supervised release.

Holzer pleaded guilty to federal hate crime and explosive charges for plotting to blow up Temple Emanuel synagogue in Pueblo, Colorado.

According to the United States Department of Justice, Holzer wanted the bombing to send a message to the Jewish people in his community, saying that they need to leave or “people will die.”

The Acting Deputy Attorney General John Carlin said that Holzer’s sentencing is a priority.

“The Department has combatted hate-based violent extremism and domestic terrorism since our inception,” said the attorney general. “Today, there is no higher priority. This sentencing serves as a reminder that these crimes will not be tolerated, and we will hold the individuals who engage in them fully accountable.”

“From our Civil Rights Division, our National Security Division, and the FBI, to the Office for Victims of Crime and our Community Relations Service, the Department of Justice will use every tool at its disposal to identify, disrupt, deter, and prevent hate-based, extremist threats to members of the American public.”

Holzer, who identifies himself as a Neo-Nazi, admitted to planning an explosion and using social media to advocate for violence and white supremacy.

On the morning of Nov. 2, 2019, he was arrested after discussing his plans for months with undercover FBI agents and obtaining weapons from them for the attack.

“Protecting our communities from terrorism, both domestic and international, is a top priority for the FBI,” said FBI Denver Special Agent in Charge Michael Schneider. “Mr. Holzer targeted a place of worship for violence and destruction to drive people of the Jewish faith from our community.” 

“Today’s sentence demonstrates the commitment by the FBI and our law enforcement partners to ensure that if a crime is motivated by bias against a religion or any other federally protected status, it will be aggressively investigated, and the perpetrators held responsible for their actions.”

“We are grateful for the collaborative efforts of the FBI’s Southern Colorado Joint Terrorism Task Force, Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office, Pueblo Police Department, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office to hold Mr. Holzer accountable for plotting violent acts of hate.”

He admitted that the attack was going to happen later that evening. 

Holzer told the FBI that, “The event planned for tonight would define me as a person who would die for his people.”

Holzer admitted in a plea agreement to the federal definition of domestic terrorism.

Written ByLauren Akabori

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