Court Documents: Hate Group Targeted Orlando
by Bill Morlin, Southern Poverty Law Center
Members of the American Front – a well-armed, militia-style white supremacist group in Osceola County, Florida – were planning acts of violence and preparing for “an inevitable race war” when 11 of them were arrested last week, court documents say.
The documents, the outgrowth of a two-year investigation, also say American Front members received paramilitary training at a fortified compound near St. Cloud, Fla., from one of its Missouri members who is a U.S. military reservist. He was not among those arrested.
The American Front compound is on 10 acres in Florida’s Osceola County and is owned by group leader Marcus Faella, 39, and his wife, Patricia, 36, who were among those arrested on state charges of conducting illegal paramilitary training, attempting to shoot into an occupied dwelling, and prejudice while committing a crime.
Marcus Faella was “working intently” to turn the property, which adjoins the sprawling woodlands and wetlands of the Bull Creek Wildlife Management Area, into an “Aryan compound where all the AF members could live when the United States Government fails,” the court documents say.
The property, which features fortified gun entrenchments, is surrounded by barbed wire and protected by guard dogs. In a mobile home where the Faellas lived, Marcus Faella “reinforced the walls and has cut firing ports out of the sides,” the documents say.
The documents describe the American Front as a “militia-styled, anti-Semitic, white supremacist, skinhead organization (that) is a known domestic terrorist organization.”
“Marcus Faella has been planning and preparing the AF for what he believes to be an inevitable race war” and has been stockpiling ammunition, water and other supplies, the court document says. Members also were making ghillie suits to better conceal themselves during paramilitary maneuvers in addition to homemade body armor, it adds.
Faella, who considers himself and other American Front members “as the protectors of the white race,” has said his intention “during the race war is to kill Jews, immigrants and other minorities,” the document says.
Full-fledged or “patched members” of the American Front were required to undergo regular training at the compound, where classes were conducted on firearms, explosives and military tactics.
At a training session in February, Faella reported on another American Front chapter in Oregon and how it was expanding, with its members purchasing AK-47 assault rifles and conducting paramilitary training, the document says.
“During shooting drills, Faella would use jugs of water and told participants to visualize the jugs being nigger’s [sic] heads while they were shooting at them,” the document says. He “also would make threatening remarks toward Jewish people while conducting combat training.”
Faella also was making “plans for members of AF to go out and cause disturbances” in various communities, including at the Orlando City Hall and at a May Day demonstration in Melbourne, Fla. The AF members also discussed assaulting anti-racist skinheads known as SHARPS (Skin Heads Against Racial Prejudice).
The arrests were triggered when “law enforcement became concerned about the pending violence Faella was planning” and his demand to see if members were using their cell phones to secretly record illegal activities.
Others arrested as part of the investigation were: Verlin C. Lewis, 40, of Lynn Haven, Fla.; Mark McGowan, 29, and Jennifer McGowan, 25, of Canaveral Groves, Fla.; Christopher Brooks, 27, of Palm Bay, Fla.; Diane Stevens, 28, Dustin Perry, 27, and Richard Stockdale, 23, all of Kissimmee, Fla.; and Paul Jackson, 25, and Kent McLellan, 22, both of St. Cloud. Authorities say they are looking for a 12th member of the group, identified as Dylan Rettenmaier.
The group’s activity in Florida dates back to the 1980s when its late founder, David Lynch, lived in the state. Lynch, who moved to California and led a major resurgence of the group about five years ago, was murdered in his Sacramento home in March 2011. His murder remains unsolved.