Two distinguished Metro Detroit civil rights and Jewish leaders said this past Thursday the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) told them they had been targeted by an alleged white supremacist.
Rev. Wendell Anthony, president of the Detroit branch NAACP, and Scott Kaufman, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit, say FBI agents told them that their names appeared on what they believe to be is a "hit list."
Agents informed the two prominent officials that the list is linked to 47-year-old Richard Schmidt, an ex-felon and suspected white supremacist.
However, the FBI also noted that there was no immediate or specific threat against either Kaufman or Anthony.
Though Kaufman described the revelation of a hit list targeting him and his organization as “unnerving,” he also indicated that he refused to be cowed by extremists and told The Detroit News
that it would in no way interfere with the efforts of his group or others in the community. The Jewish community leader also praised the FBI for its work in apprehending Schmidt.
In comments to CBS 62
, the local Detroit affiliate of the CBS television network, Anthony confirmed the FBI had also informed him about his name appearing on Schmidt’s alleged hit list. The civil rights leader said the FBI revealed few details to him but wanted to be sure he was made aware of the situation.
Anthony’s defiant response to the revelation of the suspected hit list has been largely similar to that of Kaufman’s. Anthony noted that his organization has been targeted in the past and that there are currently no plans to increase security measures in light of the FBI’s recent threat notice. He said nothing is going to halt the NAACP’s mission of defending civil rights.
Agents at the FBI’s Cleveland Field Office discovered the suspected hit list during a raid this past December on Schmidt’s home in Toledo, Ohio and his business, Spindletop Sports Zone – a sporting goods store, located at the Woodland shopping mall in nearby Bowling Green.
The search by authorities also uncovered a cache of weapons that included 18 firearms, high-capacity magazines, body armor and as much as 40,000 rounds of ammunition. Among the firearms seized by federal authorities were AR-15 rifles, AR-10 rifles, Russian-style AK-47 shotguns, a .357 magnum revolver as well as several other handguns.
A treasure trove of Neo-Nazi and white supremacist paraphernalia were also recovered in the raids. Authorities noted the discovery of World War II Nazi memorabilia, anti-Semitic material, as well as racist videos, bumper stickers and pamphlets from the National Socialist Movement – a prominent neo-Nazi and white supremacist group linked to acts of violence nationwide.
The FBI believes that Schmidt planned to attack very soon.
Schmidt’s arsenal and how he came to acquire it is of great interest to the FBI, especially because he is an ex-convict.
As a convicted felon, Schmidt is forbidden by U.S. federal law from ever owning a firearm. The ownership of ammunition and body armor by a convicted felon is also prohibited under federal law.
In 1990, Schmidt gunned down a Latino motorist during a traffic dispute in Lucas County. He was convicted of manslaughter in that incident and served 13 years in prison.
Agents with the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force in Cleveland are investigating the origins of Schmidt’s arsenal but suspect that he may have purchased the weapons at gun shows or from private dealers, where background checks are currently not required, or from the black market.
Federal agents have spent the past several weeks trying to trace the source of the firearms, but officials say that they have had little luck.
When asked by NBC News
if Schmidt was believed to be working with other white supremacists, a federal law enforcement source speaking to that network on the condition of anonymity stated, “This is an active investigation.”
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, FBI agents initially targeted Schmidt because they suspected him of selling counterfeit goods that included Nike, Reebok, Louis Vuitton, NFL football jerseys and other fake sporting goods through his business, Spindletop Sports Zone. However, the counterfeit goods probe also became a terrorism investigation when agents uncovered the arsenal and suspected hit list during the raid.
Schmidt is currently in federal custody. Andrew Hart, Schmidt’s federal public defender has refused to comment about the case.
According to the indictment unsealed last week in the U.S. Court of the Northern District of Ohio
, Schmidt has been charged with three counts of illegal possession of firearms, ammunition and body armor and one count of trafficking in counterfeit goods.