Police arrested a man in upstate New York who shared video of the New Zealand mosque massacre on Facebook and appeared to be conspiring to emulate him in the United States, telling a friend online, “there is a war is brewing.”
On Thursday, federal authorities announced the arrest of Thomas Alonzo Bolin from Greece, New York, which is about eight miles southeast of Rochester. According to federal documents, Bolin managed a white supremacist Facebook group and regularly expressed white supremacist views online under the alias “Peter Vincent.”
Bolin’s arrest comes only months after Greece police arrested three men and a teenager for allegedly plotting to attack a Muslim community about a three hour drive away. Police uncovered an arsenal of 23 firearms plus three homemade bombs in that case. Greece police said that the suspects had plotted their attack for about a month and had communicated via Discord, a video game chat service that’s become popular with far-right groups.
When investigators searched Bolin’ apartment they found two boxes of ammunition on his bed, a red devil mask, and a 12-gauge shotgun inside a black backpack, as well as a plastic bag containing additional ammunition. He is currently facing a single charge of providing false statements to the U.S. government.
In the complaint, the FBI includes snippets of conversations between Bolin and his cousin Austin Witkowski, including their discussion of the New Zealand attacks that left 50 dead. One exchange between the cousins on March 16, one day after the New Zealand attacks, hinted at possible violent plans.
According to documents, Bolin told his cousin that he got into a car accident and broke his arm. “There goes all that shit,” his cousin said.
“Only takes one arm to fire a glock,” Bolin replied.
“I guess I’ll do this shit myself,” his cousin said. “I’m not waiting months and months or a week. It was supposed to be done by Halloween.”
That same day, his cousin also wrote, “Words aren’t going to help. Violence is the key.”
Court documents also allege that Bolin posted a still from the New Zealand attacks (which the shooter broadcast via Facebook Live) showing a gun pointing towards a mosque with the caption “how white people see Muslims.”
On March 12, three days before the New Zealand attack, Bolin allegedly posted three photographs showing a total of four handguns on his Facebook page. After the New Zealand attacks, investigators interviewed Bolin and his girlfriend.
During their conversation, Bolin said he never suggested hurting anyone. When asked whether he owned guns, Bolin allegedly admitted to owning guns when he lived in Kansas City, Missouri — where they were legal — but denied possessing firearms since he moved to New York State in May 2018.
In the affidavit in support of the complaint, Special Agent Adam Paradowski who is assigned to the Buffalo Division of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism task Force, says that he did not “include each and every fact that I know concerning this investigation.”
Cover image: Headquarters of the FBI on Pennsylvania Avenue in downtown Washington, Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019. (AP Photo/Jon Elswick)