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Colorado man sentenced to 19 years in prison for plotting to blow up Pueblo synagogue

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Published: Feb. 26, 2021 at 5:00 PM MST
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DENVER – A Colorado man was sentenced on Friday in federal court in Denver for plotting to blow up a synagogue.

Richard Holzer, 28, was sentenced to more than 19 years in federal prison, followed by 15 years of supervised release according to United States Attorney Jason Dunn.

Holzer previously pleaded guilty to federal hate crime and explosives charges for plotting to blow up the Temple Emanuel Synagogue in Pueblo, Colorado, conduct that constituted acts of domestic terrorism.

Holzer told undercover FBI agents that he wanted the bombing to send a message to Jewish people that they must leave his town, “otherwise people will die.”

“Today’s sentence is another step forward in our on-going fight against extremism,” said Jason Dunn. “About two-and-a-half years ago, my first day as U.S. Attorney took me to a vigil for victims from the Pittsburgh Tree of Life Synagogue attack. Today, my last day in the office, we have sentenced the extremist responsible for the attempted bombing of the Temple Emanuel Synagogue in Pueblo. We must remain ever vigilant in this battle and I am confident the Department will continue to lead this fight.”

Holzer, who self-identifies as a Neo-Nazi and white supremacist, admitted that he planned to destroy Temple Emanuel, a synagogue in Pueblo, Colorado, that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The planned bombing, which Holzer declared was “a move for our race,” was born from years of Holzer consuming and promoting white supremacist ideology. Holzer regularly used social media to glorify violence and advocate for white supremacy. After an undercover FBI employee contacted Holzer, he sent pictures of himself holding automatic weapons and said he was “getting ready for RAHOWA,” shorthand for a racial holy war.

Holzer talked to associates for months about attacking Temple Emanuel, and he visited the synagogue to observe Jewish congregants. During a meeting with undercover agents to discuss his plans, Holzer repeatedly expressed his hatred of Jewish people and suggested using explosive devices to destroy the Synagogue. Holzer told the undercover agents that he wanted to “get that place off the map.” Holzer further admitted that he coordinated with the undercover agents to obtain explosives, including pipe bombs.

On the evening of Nov. 1, 2019, Holzer met with undercover agents, who provided Holzer with inert explosive devices that had been fabricated by the FBI, including two pipe bombs and 14 sticks of dynamite. Holzer removed a copy of “Mein Kampf” from his bag and told the undercover agents that the explosives looked “absolutely gorgeous.”

Holzer admitted that he planned to detonate the explosives several hours later, in the early hours of Saturday morning, Nov. 2, 2019. After his arrest, Holzer explained that “[t]he event planned for tonight would define me as a person who would die for his people.”

The FBI conducted the investigation with the assistance of the Pueblo Police Department and Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office.

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