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Sacramento authorities question members of World Church of the Creator

Williams brothers
Benjamin Williams, left, and his brother, James Williams

MESSAGE BOARDS:

Race relations

Gay Rights

 

July 13, 1999
Web posted at: 12:19 a.m. EDT (0419 GMT)

SACRAMENTO, California (CNN) -- Sacramento authorities have questioned members of The World Church of the Creator, a self-proclaimed whites-only group, about possible ties to suspects in three synagogue fires. The suspects also are linked to the killings of a gay couple.

"It doesn't hurt to let them know that we're aware of who they (church members) are," Sacramento County sheriff's Lt. John McGinness told CNN on Monday.

Also, "We have reason to believe that certain persons in the community could be in some danger, their personal safety could be threatened," said McGinness.

Two brothers, Benjamin Matthew Williams, 31, and James Tyler Williams, 29, are being held by Shasta County authorities for allegedly purchasing ammunition loaders with one of the dead man's credit cards.

In searches of their Redding home north of Sacramento following their arrests, investigators found ammunition and literature from the World Church of the Creator, the East Peoria, Illinois-based group that preaches against minorities.

The church gained notoriety over the July 4th weekend when one of its former members, Benjamin Nathaniel Smith, allegedly went on a two-state Midwest shooting spree that left two people dead -- a black and a Korean -- before he took his own life.

While the church's web site says it discourages violence, except in self defense, members distribute anti-minority leaflets and authorities regard church members with suspicion.

The Williams brothers were arraigned Friday on charges of receiving allegedly stolen property connected to the July 1 shooting deaths of Gary Matson, 50,and Winfield Scott Mowder, 40, in their home in the Redding area.

A statement released by the Shasta County Sheriff's Office acknowledged the brothers are also being investigated in the three arson attacks on June 18th.

Investigators found that the brothers had a notebook containing a list of 32 Sacramento-area Jewish and civic leaders primarily associated with the three Sacramento synagogues that went up in flames June 18.

McGinness said the discovery led investigators to conclude that some area residents' safety could be endangered.



RELATED STORIES:
Two more state agencies investigating racist group linked to shooting spree
July 12, 1999
Community rocked by murders, links to synagogue fires
July 12, 1999
FBI: Suspects kept list of Sacramento synagogue members
July 9, 1999
Sacramento synagogues torched in 'night of fire'
June 18, 1999

RELATED SITES:
Union of American Hebrew Congregations
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