FALLS CHURCH, Va. (AP) - A former neo-Nazi leader in Texas was arrested Wednesday and charged with a series of phony bomb threats made in Virginia and across multiple countries.
John C. Denton, 26, of Montgomery, Texas, faces federal conspiracy charges in U.S. District Court in Alexandria related to his alleged role in a series of swatting events. He faces an initial appearance Wednesday afternoon in federal court in Houston.
Prosecutors in Alexandria say the targets of the bogus bomb threats included a predominantly African American church in Alexandria, an unidentified Cabinet official living in northern Virginia, and Old Dominion University in Norfolk.
Denton has been identified as a former leader of a group called Atomwaffen Division, which has been linked to multiple killings. Authorities say the group is seeking to incite a race war.
He is one of several alleged Atomwaffen members to face federal charges in recent months and is the second person charged in Alexandria in relation to the swatting calls in Virginia.
According to an affidavit unsealed Wednesday, Denton specifically chose two targets in the swatting scheme: the New York offices of ProPublica, an online investigative news outlet, and a ProPublica journalist. The affidavit states Denton was angry at ProPublica and the journalist for exposing his role as an Atomwaffen leader.
Denton admitted to an undercover FBI agent that he participated in the swatting calls to ProPublica and the ProPublica journalist, and used a voice changer when he made calls, according to the affidavit.
The swatting calls occurred in 2018 and 2019. Members of the conspiracy conducted more than 100 swatting calls throughout the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom, according to the affidavit.
The affidavit describes Denton as a founding member of Atomwaffen Division who used the names “Rape” and “Tormentor” in online conversations while holding a day job as a mortuary worker.
Earlier this year, former Old Dominion University student John William Kirby Kelley was charged in the swatting scheme. The affidavit unsealed Wednesday indicates Denton became concerned that Kelley had too easily drawn law-enforcement attention when he called in a swatting call to his own school.
On Friday, another alleged Atomwaffen member, Andrew Thomasberg, faces sentencing in Alexandria for unrelated weapons crimes.