Members of White Supremacy groups gather in West Allis, Wisconsin..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The suspect charged with the murder of Jewish-American college student Blaze Bernstein, Samuel Woodward, has ties to the neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen Division according to sources.
According to ProPublica, the Atomwaffen Division is an armed white supremacist organization that espouses a neo-Nazi ideology and aims to overthrow the US government via terrorism and guerilla warfare.
Woodward routinely referred to himself on social media and in chat logs as a “National Socialist” and as “antisemitic.”
One source who named Woodward as a member of the group is a former member of the organization. Woodward reportedly joined the organization in 2016 and later attended a 3-day basic training course in firearms and hand-to-hand combat in Texas.
The organization idolizes Adolf Hitler and mass murderer Charles Manson and has been associated with four other murders, as well as a bomb plot, all of which took place over the last 8 months.
Atomwaffen, which means atomic weapon in German, routinely utilizes Nazi symbolism and uploads videos onto the internet showing members lighting on fire the US constitution and the American flag.
Woodward first met Bernstein in high school in Orange County, California. Bernstein, 19, was discovered in a shallow grave near Lake Forest Park with more than 20 stab wounds to his body last week, The Orange County Register
Local authorities believe that Woodward murdered Bernstein after the latter attempted to kiss him before they arrived at the park. Woodward was found with “abrasions, scratches and dirt on his hands,” when police apprehended him last week. Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas also said that Woodward cleaned the car that he used the night he picked up Bernstein and visited the crime scene “days after the murder.”
“This is a senseless murder of a young man who possessed a combination of a high-caliber mind and the heart of a poet,” Rackauckas said. According to an affidavit obtained by the Register
, Woodward clenched his jaw and balled his fists while detectives questioned him about Bernstein's intimate advances, telling officers that he wanted "Blaze to get off of him." Following the affidavit's publication, the Bernstein's family released a statement saying they believe their son was slaughtered because he was gay.Daniel J. Roth and JTA contributed to this article.
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