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Press Release

Murder and Extremism in the United States in 2018

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From Parkland to Pittsburgh, 2018 was a particularly active year for right-wing extremist murders. But ADL’s Center on Extremism, which tracks extremist activity, prevented at least one potential murderer from turning hate into violence.

Dakota Reed, 20, was hiding in plain sight. The Washington state resident was assembling a cache of weapons and hatching a plan, which he described this way on social media:

“gonna make the news some more and shoot some Jews...”

Reed’s online posts were terrifying and included fantasies about killing a Jewish child with a shotgun, pictures of him posing with weapons against the backdrop of a neo-Nazi flag and repeated threats of violence against Jews and Muslims. He quoted Robert Bowers, the white supremacist responsible for the deadly shooting spree at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh:

“Screw your optics, I’m going in.”

Before Reed could act, expert analysts from ADL’s Center on Extremism (COE) uncovered his violent threats and warned law enforcement about him. In December, he was arrested by FBI agents and Snohomish County (WA) deputies, and charged with malicious harassment — Washington’s hate crime statute — and with making bomb threats. Authorities also seized firearms, ammunition and white supremacist propaganda from his home.

ADL’s actions stopped this extremist from turning his hate into another deadly act of anti-Semitic violence. But while this story ended in an arrest instead of a massacre, 2018 saw a number of similarly motivated extremists carry out their terrible plans. 

2018 was a particularly active year for right-wing extremist murders, as highlighted in our new report, “Murder and Extremism in the United States in 2018.” From Parkland to Pittsburgh, extremists killed at least 50 people in the U.S.—a sharp increase from the 37 extremist-related
murders documented in 2017. 

In fact, ADL’s Center on Extremism found that 2018 was the fourth-deadliest year on record for domestic extremist-related killings since 1970. Read our full report, which provides key insights into the crimes and the motivations behind them.

Every year, COE tracks and reports on murders perpetrated by all types of extremists. Our team of analysts monitors these threats, identifies and tracks hate-fueled extremism and partners with law enforcement as part of our efforts to keep hateful words from becoming violent acts.