11th arrest linked to Florida white supremacist group

Story highlights

  • 11th suspected member of white supremacist group charged, released
  • Authorities have arrested members of American Front
  • Police documents say they were plotting disruptions to attract new members
  • A 12th individual is being sought
An 11th suspect linked to a central Florida white supremacist group has been arrested and another individual was being sought, authorities said Thursday.
Verlin C. Lewis, 40, was charged with unlawfully committing paramilitary training, attempting to shoot into an occupied dwelling and evidence to prejudice while committing an offense, said Twis Lizasuain, a spokeswoman with the Osceola County Sheriff's Office.
Lewis was released Tuesday on $50,000 bond from the Washington County jail in northern Florida.
Authorities were searching for Dylan J. Rettenmaier, 25, a convicted felon.
According to authorities, members of American Front -- a white supremacist group -- trained in hand-to-hand combat and drilled in breaking down weapons and practiced shooting them.
On Monday, authorities said they had arrested Marcus and Patricia Faella and five other members of the group, which is also known by its initials AF, on charges of illegal paramilitary training, attempting to shoot into an occupied dwelling and evidence of prejudice while committing a crime.
"Faella views himself and the other members of the AF as the protectors of the white race," investigators wrote in an affidavit. "Faella has stated his intent during the race war is to kill Jews, immigrants and other minorities."
More immediately, according to police, Faella was planning to stage provocative disruptions at the Orlando City Hall and at a Melbourne, Florida, anti-racism gathering.
Faella, the police documents say, wanted to stir up media attention to help gain new recruits for American Front, which hate-tracking groups says has been faltering since the death of its leader, David Lynch, in California.
Nationally, American Front has had a long and violent history, including the beating death of a Salt Lake City man and a string of 1993 bombings in California, according to hate-tracking groups.
The 25-year-old group enjoyed a resurgence in 2007 under Lynch, described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a charismatic leader who helped form it in 1987. But Lynch was shot to death in his home in March 2011, leaving the group with no clear leader, according to the Anti-Defamation League. It has shrunk significantly in the past year, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Most of the group's 50 or so members appear to live in Florida, according to the ADL.
Authorities identified the other members arrested last week as Christopher Brooks, Richard Stockdale, Kent McLellan, Jennifer McGowan, Mark McGowan, Diane Stevens, Paul Jackson and Dustin Perry.
Marcus Faella bonded out of jail on Saturday, according to Osceola County officials. His wife was released on Sunday, they said.
The Faella compound is situated on the edge of a wildlife management area marketed by tourism officials as a good spot for hikers, campers and bird watchers.
According to police, Faella's group watched videos training them in fighting and the use of AK-47s and other weapons at the compound, which the affidavit said is ringed with barbed wire and protected by pit bulls and firing positions facing the driveway.
The property was meant to become a refuge for white supremacists after the fall of the U.S. government during a race war, investigators wrote in the affidavit. The group was making body armor and sniper suits and stocking up on supplies in preparation, according to police.