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Man charged in synagogue bomb plot pleads not guilty

richard holzer Cropped
Richard Holzer

DENVER (AP) - A man accused of being a white supremacist has pleaded not guilty to planning to bomb a historic Colorado synagogue.

Federal public defender Mary Butterton entered three not guilty pleas Monday on behalf of 27-year-old Richard Holzer in U.S. District Court in Denver.

Holzer watched the brief hearing in shackles and a yellow jail jumpsuit. Members of Temple Emanuel sat together in the back of the courtroom.

Holzer is charged with attempting to obstruct the exercise of religion by force by using explosives and fire against Temple Emanuel in Pueblo.

He also is charged with attempted arson and using fire or an explosive device to commit a felony.

Holzer was arrested Nov. 1 after the FBI said he accepted what turned out to be phony explosives from undercover agents.

Previous Coverage by KRDO:

According to court documents released by the Department of Justice in Denver, Holzer had multiple Facebook accounts that he used to push white supremacist ideology. On one of those accounts, he was contacted by an undercover FBI agent posing as a woman who supports white supremacy in late September.

Over the course of a few days, Holzer told the agent that he hated Jewish people and made multiple threats against them. He then told the agent that he had contacted a cook in Pueblo known as the "Mexican Hitler" and paid him $70 to put arsenic in the water pipes at Temple Emanuel, according to court documents.

The agent asked Holzer to keep her in the loop about any activist events coming up, and on Oct. 3, Holzer messaged her saying, "I'm getting ready for RAHOWA [racial holy war.]"

Holzer then told the agent that he wanted to poison the synagogue again on Oct. 31 and invited her to join him. She said he should meet some of her friends in the middle of October, and he ended up meeting with an undercover agent in Colorado Springs.

According to the court documents, Holzer told the undercover agent about the previous poisoning at the synagogue and then said he wanted to "vandalize the place beyond repair," potentially using Molotov cocktails.

When the undercover agent brought up the use of explosives against the synagogue, Holzer said, "I want something that tells them they are not welcome in this town. Better get the f*** out, otherwise, people will die," according to the court documents. He also expressed an interest in using pipe bombs since Molotov cocktails wouldn't be enough.

On Nov. 1, an undercover agent picked Holzer up and drove him to a motel where two other undercover agents were waiting. At the hotel, Holzer was shown two pipe bombs and two bundles containing seven sticks of dynamite. Holzer said, "This is absolutely gorgeous." Holzer then said they should carry out the attack at 2:30 or 3 a.m.

Before the attack, Holzer was arrested and taken to a police station. He admitted to police that he planned to blow up the synagogue and referred to the plan as "my mountain." He said that he had not planned to hurt anyone, but that he would have gone through with the attack even if someone was inside.

Local News / News / Pueblo

Associated Press

This article was provided by the Associated Press.