FLORIDA — Prosecutors have confirmed they will not be seeking the death penalty against 18-year-old neo-Nazi turned radical Islamist Devon Arthurs, who is accused of killing two of his roommates in the city of Tampa.
The decision was announced without explanation during a hearing on Thursday. According to The Tampa Bay Times, Arthurs faces two counts of first-degree murder.
According to investigators, Devon Arthurs killed Jeremy Himmelman, 22, and Andrew Oneschuk, 18, because he was angry about anti-Muslim sentiment in the world and he “wanted to bring attention to his cause.”
Arthurs committed the murders at the Hamptons at Tampa Palms apartment complex, and then Arthurs created a hostage situation that took place at the nearby Green Planet Smoke Shop.
Upon entering the smoke shop, Arthurs brandished a semiautomatic pistol. “Do me a favor and get the f— on the ground!” he yelled to a female employee and male customer, then asked the customer, “Why shouldn’t I kill you?”
Another customer entered a few minutes later and was ordered by Devon Arthurs to get on the ground. Arthurs also alerted the hostages that he had already killed someone.
“He further informed all three victims that he was upset due to America bombing his Muslim countries,” said a police report.
Two Tampa police officers responded to the scene and were able to convince Devon Arthurs to release the hostages and surrender to arrest. As he was led to a patrol car, Arthurs made references to “Allah Mohammed.”
“I had to do it,” he said. “This wouldn’t have had to happen if your country didn’t bomb my country.”
When asked by officers if anyone else was injured, Arthurs replied, ”The people in the apartment, but they’re aren’t hurt, they’re dead.”
Arthurs directed them to his apartment where they found another of Arthur’s roommates, Brandon Russell, standing outside the door, “crying and visibly upset.” Arthurs saw Russell and said to police, “That’s my roommate. He doesn’t know what’s going on and just found them like you guys did.”
Officers entered the apartment where they found Jeremy Himmelman and Andrew Oneschuk inside, both shot in the head and upper body. Both men were found dead.
Devon Arthurs later told Tampa police that the men were members of a neo-Nazi group called Atomwaffen Division, and that they were planning bombings.
Russell faces federal explosives charges after investigators found the high volatile explosive HMTD and bomb-making materials, as well as a framed picture of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, in the apartment.
Russell has denied any plans to make a bomb, as Arthurs claimed, saying the materials were used to boost model rockets.
Oneschuk’s father, Walter Oneschuk, said he accepts prosecutors’ decision and would be satisfied if Arthurs ultimately is sentenced to life in prison, stating: “Personally, I don’t care if he gets the death penalty. It’s not going to change anything with Andrew.”
Capital punishment is a legal penalty in the U.S. state of Florida. Since 1976, the state has executed 93 convicted murderers, all at Florida State Prison. As of August 3, 2017, 362 offenders are awaiting execution.
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