Two white supremacists allegedly plotted to go on a national killing spree, shooting and decapitating black people, and ultimately targeting Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, federal authorities said Monday.
In all, the two men whom officials describe as neo-Nazi skinheads planned to kill 88 people – 14 by beheading – according to documents unsealed in U.S. District Court in Jackson, Tenn. The numbers 88 and 14 are symbolic in the white supremacist community.
The spree, which initially targeted an unidentified predominantly African American school, was to end with the two men driving toward Obama, “shooting at him from the windows,” court documents show.
“Both individuals stated they would dress in all white tuxedos and wear top hats during the assassination attempt,” the complaint says. “Both individuals further stated they knew they would and were willing to die during this attempt.”
Sheriff's deputies in Crockett County, Tenn., arrested the suspects – Daniel Cowart, 20, of Bells, Tenn., and Paul Schlesselman 18, of Helena-West Helena, Ark. – Oct. 22 on unspecified charges.
The two were charged by federal authorities Monday with possessing an unregistered firearm, conspiring to steal firearms from a federally licensed gun dealer, and threatening a presidential candidate.
Cowart and Schlesselman are being held without bond.
Attorney Joe Byrd, who has been hired to represent Cowart, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
The numbers 14 and 88 are symbols in skinhead culture, referring to a 14-word phrase attributed to an imprisoned white supremacist: “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children,” and to the eighth letter of the alphabet, H. Two 8's or H's stand for “Heil Hitler.”
Jim Cavanaugh, special agent in charge of the Nashville field office for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives, said more charges are possible.