SEATTLE — Police have seized military-style firearms from an avowed neo-Nazi in Snohomish County in what is believed to be a first-of-its-kind case in Washington state.
KING TV reported Thursday that prosecutors and the FBI convinced a judge that “Kaleb Cole poses a serious threat to public safety by having access and possession of firearms and a concealed pistol license,” according to court records.
King County court records provided by a prosecutor’s office on Thursday said officers last month seized five military-style rifles, three pistols and gun parts from a residence in Arlington. The weapons belong to Cole, the suspected leader of The Atomwaffen Division in Washington state, the court records said.
Atomwaffen, which is a German for “atomic weapon,” is a small but extreme organization that seeks inspiration from Adolph Hitler and Charles Manson, who ordered mass murders to attempt to trigger a race war. Its white supremacist members claim they will not start the war but are arming themselves in preparation. Atomwaffen members have been charged in five murders in other states.
Authorities claim Cole has amassed firearms and trained with weapons in western Washington.
Cole isn’t charged with a crime but is named in a so-called “extreme risk protection order” filed earlier this month. The judge issued an order requiring Cole to surrender all firearms to the police.
KING 5 was unable to reach Cole for comment.
Online videos show Atomwaffen members firing guns and moving through rooms at “devils tower,” a graffiti-scarred building at an abandoned cement plant near the northwestern town of Concrete.
“This is a hate-filled human being but one who, unfortunately, possesses a large number of weapons,” said Holmes.
Documents filed in court show that Cole traveled to Eastern Europe in December of 2018 to honor the sites of some of World War II’s most horrific scenes.
Cell phone photos retrieved by Customs and Border Patrol agents when Cole re-entered the U.S. show him posing in front of the Nazi death camp Auschwitz. In the photos, Cole is holding up the Atomwaffen flag at other locations, and other photos show him holding guns.
“Cole has been permanently banned from entry into Canada as a result of his (admitted) membership/affiliation with the Atomwaffen Division,” the Border Patrol report stated.
Earlier this year, the Seattle FBI approached Seattle/King County’s Regional Firearms Enforcement Unit operated by the Seattle City Attorney, King County Prosecutor, and Seattle police. Agents sought an extreme risk protection order to disarm Cole, but the federal government has no such tool.
“The fact is the federal government came to us. There’s no other mechanism like our firearms unit that’s in existence. There’s no one else in the state that’s doing this,” said Holmes.
It’s the first time the federal government sought an extreme risk protection order in Washington state, and it’s believed to be one of the first instances in the nation.
King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg said the order to surrender guns is the right tool when law enforcement doesn’t have enough evidence to file a criminal charge.
Holmes said the case marks an important milestone since he started working with his domestic violence prosecutor, Chris Anderson, on the pilot project that formed the firearms enforcement unit.
That unit has now seized nearly 1,100 firearms since 2017, mostly from accused domestic abusers.