A felon prosecutors say is obsessed with “hate-based violence” was arrested after a raid on his Pittsburgh home turned up a cache of weapons, including an AR-15 style rifle, and videos of himself in Nazi apparel doing a Heil Hitler salute, according to a criminal complaint.
Dennis Alan Riggs, 50, who was convicted in 1994 of aggravated assault, also decorated his home with posters of Adolf Hitler and Nazis, and possessed a video of the 2019 terrorist attack in Christchurch, New Zealand, according to a criminal complaint.
“Riggs’s Nazi videos, photos and paraphernalia clearly show his obsession with hate-based violence. His cache of firearms clearly shows his capability to act on that obsession,” Scott Brady, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania, said in a statement. “Our office is committed to identifying, disrupting and preventing such potential threats to our community.”
Agents from the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force raided Riggs’ home on Wednesday after obtaining a federal search warrant.
Inside the two-story home on Hatteras Street, agents seized a Ruger .223 caliber AR-15 style rifle; Ruger .22 caliber revolver; a .32 caliber revolver; two 38 caliber revolvers and two Harrington & Richardson shotguns. Agents also seized multiple rounds of ammunition and knives and daggers from the residence.
Six of the seven seized guns were loaded, including one of the revolvers with the hammer cocked, according to the criminal complaint.
Federal law prohibits convicted felons from possessing a firearm or ammunition.
Riggs waived his right to remain silent and purportedly told federal agents that a person he is in a “romantic relationship” with purchased the weapons on his behalf, according to the criminal complaint.
“Riggs admitted he is a felon and cannot possess firearms,” the complaint reads.
Federal agents also seized Riggs’ cell phone, and on the device they allegedly found videos of Riggs wearing Nazi apparel, giving Nazi salutes and loading and unloading the AR-15 style rifle, according to the complaint.
Also found on Riggs’ phone were videos of the March 15, 2019, attack on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, in which suspected white supremacist Brenton Tarrant, 29, killed 51 people and live-streamed the massacre on Facebook.
Authorities said agents also found in Riggs’ residence a photograph of Dylann Roof, the white supremacist gunman convicted of carrying out the June 17, 2015, mass shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, that left nine African American parishioners dead, according to the complaint. The photo contained Roof’s current Bureau of Prisons contact information, according to the complaint.
Riggs’ home is about four miles from the Tree of Life Synagogue, where Robert Bowers allegedly shot 11 worshipers to death and injured seven others during an attack on October 27, 2018.
Riggs, who remains in federal custody, appeared in federal court in Pittsburgh on Wednesday for a detention hearing and waived his right to a preliminary hearing after federal prosecutors presented evidence seized from his home supporting the weapons charge.
If convicted, Riggs faces a sentence of up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.
“This is a coordinated effort to keep our community safe,” FBI Pittsburgh Special Agent in Charge Robert Jones said in a statement. “I commend our Joint Terrorism Task Force [JTTF], which includes our local, state and federal partners, for their investigative efforts in identifying and arresting this suspect. The FBI uses all of our resources to make sure firearms are kept out of the hands of those prohibited from having them.”
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