Police: Georgia men part of white supremacist group planning murder

Case connected to arrests in Maryland

Authorities in North Georgia said they have arrested three men who belong to a white supremacist organization that was plotting to kill a Bartow County couple, overthrow the government and start a race war.

Floyd County Police allege the three are members of “the Base,” described as a violent organization that has a substantial presence south of Rome in the rural Silver Creek community. The group’s goal, police said, is to “establish a white ethno-state.”

The men — Michael John Helterbrand, 25, of Dalton; Jacob Kaderli, 19, of Dacula; and Luke Austin Lane, 21, of Silver Creek — plotted in North Georgia last year with a fourth member of the same group, a Canadian national named Patrick Jordan Mathews, according to Floyd police.

Federal law enforcement authorities arrested Mathews, a former combat engineer in the Canadian Army Reserve, and two other Base members in Maryland and charged them with firearm-related offenses this week. Mathews had discussed participating in a pro-gun rally Monday in Richmond, Va., where state lawmakers are considering gun control measures, The New York Times reported. Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam instituted a temporary ban on firearms on Capitol grounds ahead of the rally, citing intelligence that extremist groups were threatening violence. A Virginia Circuit Court judge upheld the order in a ruling Thursday.

The rally has drawn support from far-right groups, including the Georgia III% Security Force militia, led by Chris Hill, an Atlanta-area resident. Hill, who has spent months publicizing the rally on his social media channels, apparently is in Richmond for the event. On Friday, Hill posted a news account of the Base arrests on Facebook, saying: “FBI Just Arrested 3 Men That Were Headed to The Virginia Rally” and called the accusations “fake.”

The three Georgians have each been charged with participating in a criminal gang and conspiracy to commit murder. Jail records do not identify any attorneys representing them.

“The group was involved in recruiting new members online, meeting to discuss strategy and practicing in paramilitary training camps on a 100-acre tract in Silver Creek,” Floyd police said in a news release.

The case is detailed in a 20-page affidavit Floyd police released Friday. It describes how an undercover FBI agent infiltrated the group last year. He met with some of its members on the Lane family’s sprawling property in Silver Creek and participated in shooting drills to prepare for what the group calls the “Boogaloo,” or the collapse of the United States and a race war.

Lane is identified in the affidavit as using the online alias “TMB.” Archived records show TMB was a regular poster on neo-Nazi forums. On one, he described his journey from libertarian-leaning Republican to radical neo-Nazi.

“I was always (National Socialist) but never knew it, so that is probably why I skipped around in fringeyish circles looking for the truth I knew existed somewhere,” he wrote.

In another meeting attended by the undercover agent, Mathews — who “crossed into the United States illegally — was there, the affidavit said. Later, the agent observed Helterbrand, Kaderli and Lane discuss plans to kill an unnamed, married Bartow couple who they believed belong to the Atlanta Antifascists. The agent also accompanied Kaderli and Lane as they surveilled the couple’s home and surrounding neighborhood.

Atlanta Antifascists, an anonymous group that researches and exposes white supremacists online, released a statement to the The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that said the couple was not a member of its group. But the group said such plots are not unexpected.

“Targeting people as members of our group has become a favorite pastime of violent white supremacists,” the statement said, adding the Base is trying “to create a general attitude of terror and paranoia.”

A neo-Nazi group that has been active online since it emerged in 2018, the Base portrays its members as “soldiers defending the European race against a system that is infected by Jewish values,” said Oren Segal, vice president of the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism.

“This is a continuation of the threat of domestic terrorism that I think people are really wrapping their heads around finally,” Segal said. “To some degree, we have seen law enforcement talk about sort of doubling down on efforts to track this deadly threat. And maybe now we are starting to see some of the outcomes of that focus.”