28-year-old Richard Holzer was sentenced to 235 months—which is close to 19 and a half years—in prison and 15 years of supervised release after admitting he had plans to attack the Temple Emanuel Synagogue in Pueblo, Colorado. Judge Raymond P. Moore imposed the harsh sentence because of Holzer’s online anti-semitism and the lengths he was willing to go to.
“It is one of the most vulgar, aggressive, evil crimes that can be committed against an entire group of persons,” Moore said to the Associated Press before noting that Holzer still promotes Neo-Nazi rhetoric while behind bars. “The notion that he’s turned some corner is fantasy.”
During Holzer’s planning process, he was unknowingly in contact with a federal agent. This led to his arrest, confession in November 2019 and eventual guilty plea in October 2020. While confessing to the crime, Holzer claims that he never intended to hurt anyone but he would’ve still proceeded with the attack even if people were inside. The pipe bombs and dynamite were supplied by the FBI so they would not have exploded.
“Mr. Holzer targeted a place of worship for violence and destruction to drive people of the Jewish faith from our community,” the FBI special agent in charge of the Denver office, Michael Schneider, said in a statement.
Temple Emanuel Synagogue was completed in 1900. Per the AP, the plot against the historic build is one of 61 anti-semitic harassment and vandalism cases that the Anti-Defamation League Mountain States Region tracked in 2019. Still, the staff at Temple Emanuel Synagogue are glad this horrific chapter in its history is closed.
“Justice has been served,” the chair of the temple’s board of directors, Mike Atlas-Acuña, said to Colorado Public Radio. “I think there’s a big sense of relief… everybody’s going to have a sense of relief.”