Ghostface Gangster charged in jail assault also accused of plotting race war

Michael Helterbrand is escorted out after Judge Jack Niedrach denied a bond at Floyd County Superior Court in Rome in February 2020. A judge denied bond to two men accused of belonging to a white supremacist group that allegedly plotted to kill a Bartow County couple, overthrow the government and start a race war. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)
Caption
Michael Helterbrand is escorted out after Judge Jack Niedrach denied a bond at Floyd County Superior Court in Rome in February 2020. A judge denied bond to two men accused of belonging to a white supremacist group that allegedly plotted to kill a Bartow County couple, overthrow the government and start a race war. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

One of the seven Floyd County inmates charged earlier this week with assaulting another inmate is also accused of plotting to kill a Bartow County couple, overthrow the U.S. government and start a race war.

Michael John Helterbrand, 26, is facing charges of aggravated sexual battery, terroristic threats and criminal street gang participation. He, along with the six other inmates charged this week, are alleged to be members of the Ghostface Gangsters criminal street gang.

Helterbrand was initially arrested, along with two other men, in January, on firearm-related charges. Floyd County Police said Helterbrand 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.

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 three are also facing charges of participating in a criminal gang and conspiracy to commit murder.

“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.

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Helterbrand, along with Kaderli, is also facing animal cruelty charges. Assistant District Attorney Emily Johnson, who has so far successfully opposed bond for the two men, said a ram was stolen and killed during a “Norse-pagan ritual” in which the participants drank its blood and posed for photos with its severed head.

The Base, Johnson said, is focused on inciting a race war and bringing about a white ethno-state. Helterbrand discussed his willingness to kill the unnamed Bartow couple’s child, and the defendants talked about burning down the couple’s home, Johnson added.

The case is detailed in a 20-page affidavit describing how an undercover FBI agent infiltrated the group last year. He met with some of its members on the Lane family’s 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.

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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.”

Helterbrand’s attorney, Radford Bunker, maintains his client, who worked in the information technology industry, has no felony convictions and has supportive parents in St. Louis who are willing to post bond for him and let him live with them.