A man with a long history of white supremacist activity is one of two men facing hate crime charges in Illinois for allegedly beating two teenage girls at a suburban park in Zion.
Patrick Langballe, 29, of Winnetka, and Aaron Rush, 20, of Green Bay, Wisconsin, were arrested on June 23 and charged with hate crimes for attacking the two girls and threatening them with a sledgehammer after they told the two men they were lesbians.
The girls told investigators they met Langballe and Rush in Milwaukee, discovered they had mutual friends and decided to go camping at Illinois Beach State Park. When Langballe and Rush found out the girls were lesbians, they told the girls that they were members of the “Nazi nation” and that “gays and lesbians were no better than Jews and blacks,” according to Lake County Assistant State’s Attorney Matt Chancey.
Rush reportedly also brandished a knife and threatened to kill one of the girls. The men had Nazi and white supremacy paraphernalia with them when they were arrested, authorities said.
Langballe has a history of committing hate crimes. In 1997, at the age of 21, Langballe was charged with a hate crime as the ringleader of a group of teenagers who spray-painted swastikas and anti-Semitic and racist slogans on a parking lot of a Northfield, Illinois, synagogue and other nearby locations. A year later, a jury found him guilty of a hate crime and of criminal damage to property and he was sentenced to one year in prison.
Langballe had been associated with notorious World Church of the Creator (WCOTC) member Benjamin Smith, who went on a shooting rampage in 1999, killing two people and wounding nine others (all members of ethnic or religious minority groups) before committing suicide. Before the shooting spree, Smith had allegedly told Langballe about his plans, saying that he would first target an area frequented by Orthodox Jews. Langballe’s bond was revoked while awaiting trial for the 1997 hate crime after he was charged with one count of felony aggravated assault for carving a swastika on his girlfriend’s leg.
Until his recent arrest, Langballe had generally kept a low profile, although in January 2001, soon after being released from prison, Langballe attended a WCOTC rally in Winnetka, where a small group of white supremacists waved Confederate flags and shouted “white power” at passing cars.