Man Arrested in Plot to Bomb Historic Colorado Synagogue, FBI Says

Undercover agents say the 27-year-old suspect described the explosives he planned to use as 'absolutely gorgeous'

Temple Emanuel in Pueblo, Colorado.
Jeffrey Beall/Wikimedia Commons

The FBI says it has arrested a man in a plot to bomb an historic Colorado synagogue. The co-conspirators turned out to be undercover agents.

Court documents say Richard Holzer was arrested Friday in Pueblo just after the agents brought him what were supposedly two pipe bombs along with dynamite to blow up Temple Emanuel.

The agents said Holzer described the explosives as "absolutely gorgeous" and said they should go ahead with the attack overnight to avoid police.

The investigation into Holzer began after an undercover FBI agent purporting to be a woman who supports white supremacy contacted him on Facebook.

According to the Colorado Sun, the 27-year-old has a history of writing anti-Semitic posts on social media and had a knife, a mask and a copy of the book “Mein Kampf.” 

Speaking on Monday, Anti-Defamation League regional director said the organization had been monitoring Holtzer's online activity for a couple of years.

Praising law enforcement for Holzer's swift arrest, the ADL's Mountain States director, Scott Levin, said that the group's extremist center shared information with authorities about what it learned generally since May 2016 but not regarding the alleged plot against Temple Emanuel in Pueblo.

According to the ADL, it is the 13th time someone has been arrested for allegedly plotting attacks or making threats against the Jewish community since the attack on Pittsburgh's Tree of Life synagogue.

He appeared briefly in Denver federal court on Monday. He was handcuffed and wearing a gray polo shirt with a black collar.

Holzer answered "yes" when a judge asked if he understood the domestic terrorism charge against him. A Thursday hearing has been set.

U.S. Attorney Jason Dunn in Denver and FBI Denver Division Special Agent in Charge Dean Phillips also planned a news conference Monday.

The Temple Emanuel synagogue is the second-oldest in Colorado and was completed in 1900, according to Temple Emanuel's website.

It has a congregation of about 30 families and a rabbi from Denver who travels to Pueblo twice a month. Pueblo is about a two hour drive south of Denver. A voicemail left at the temple Monday afternoon wasn't immediately returned.