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White supremacist calls for violence amid Pittsburgh trial for synagogue shooter

“​​Our intelligence unit, detectives and patrol officers are closely monitoring him and take any possible threat extremely seriously,” the Pittsburgh public safety department told JNS.

A memorial outside the Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha Synagogue in Pittsburgh following the mass shooting on Oct. 27, 2018, which left 11 worshippers dead. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
A memorial outside the Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha Synagogue in Pittsburgh following the mass shooting on Oct. 27, 2018, which left 11 worshippers dead. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Hardy Carroll Lloyd, an antisemitic extremist who spent years in prison on weapons charges, recently claimed credit for racist stickers dotting a park in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh. He also issued a veiled threat online against jurors in the ongoing trial of Robert Bowers, the gunman who shot and killed 11 Jewish worshippers during Shabbat-morning services at the Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha Synagogue in October 2018.

Lloyd also openly called for more killings.

“We have struck Pittsburgh and shall continue to pass out flyers until Richard Bowers, the great WHITE hero of Pgh, is freed,” wrote Lloyd, a longtime fixture in the racist movement, in an email that was provided to JNS.

“We shall also file for the names of the jury once it is over to make sure they voted the right way. If Bowers is not freed then we shall not only up our flyers, but also make PGH sorry. We cannot state what this is, of course,” he added.

In subsequent emails, which were provided to JNS, and posts on Telegram, a channel favored by right-wing extremists, Lloyd openly called for the murder of Jews. Throughout those posts, which the Anti-Defamation League confirmed, he incorrectly referred to the defendant in the trial as Richard Bowers.

“So let us raise a glass to Richard Bowers and learn from his Strike of Freedom,” Lloyd posted on Telegram. “Let us take notes so we can increase the body count. Don’t go on a podcast and rant … Don’t hold a rally with 5 people. Don’t wave your gun in the air without shooting anyone. No, go out there and KILL A FEW JEWS!!’

The postings come nearly five years after Bowers entered the Squirrel Hill synagogue, armed with an assault rifle and two handguns, and methodically opened fire on members of three different congregations who gathered for prayer services in the building, killing 11 people, most of them elderly, and injuring others.

“Pittsburgh Police are very aware of Hardy Lloyd. Our intelligence unit, detectives and patrol officers are closely monitoring him and take any possible threat extremely seriously,” Cara Cruz, public information officer at the city’s public safety department, told JNS.

“The federation is aware of Hardy Lloyd, and he is someone who is a potential threat to the Jewish community-at-large based on his intense and irrational hatred of Jews and other minority and faith-based groups,” Shawn Brokos, director of community security at the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, told JNS.

Local and state police secure the area around Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha Synagogue in Pittsburgh on Oct. 27, 2018. Credit: Shutterstock/Brendt A Petersen.

‘He’s a volatile and unstable person’

Mark Pitcavage, a senior researcher at the Anti-Defamation League, told JNS that the ADL alerted law enforcement to Lloyd’s postings. (The office of the U.S. marshal for the Western District of Pennsylvania referred JNS to the U.S. attorney for that district. The attorney’s office did not immediately respond to a query from JNS.)

“He’s trying to use it as a way to encourage hate and even violence. He’s urging people to do this sort of thing. He literally calls [Bowers] a hero,” Pitcavage told JNS.

“He has a volatile past history, which includes a murder, although he was acquitted. He’s a volatile and unstable person,” Pitcavage added. “More than that, he’s broadcasting this stuff to his mailing lists, to Telegram, to VK. It’s not just the risk he might personally represent. It’s the influence on someone who might see his posts.” (VK is a Russian social network.)

In a mass email, Lloyd warned against a conviction of Bowers.

“But just know that any guilty verdict could bring down the wrath of lone wolves in the region,” Lloyd wrote. “Not saying we would directly do or plan anything. But know that lone wolves will do something, and we cannot prevent them, nor would we want to. Free this great WHITE hero!”

The term “lone wolf” is used in extremist circles to describe gunmen who carry out targeted attacks against minority or political groups without directly coordinating their actions with established groups.

Lloyd’s website includes a page with photographs of nine such attackers, including Bowers. Among those pictured is Dylann Roof, who gunned down nine black worshippers at a South Carolina church.

Lloyd, 45, was acquitted of murder in 2006 after he shot his girlfriend, Lori Hann, following an argument. He went on to publish online posts taunting her family.

Lloyd now says he is the leader of the Church of Ben Klassen, an offshoot of the virulent, racist and antisemitic World Church of the Creator. That group’s leader, Matthew Hale, was imprisoned in 2004 after he was convicted of soliciting the murder of a federal judge in Chicago.

Among the “lone wolves” praised on Lloyd’s website is Benjamin Smith, a Hale follower who gunned down Jews and other minorities in Illinois in 1999.

Texas media reports from last year report that Lloyd is currently sought in Austin on charges of making terroristic threats. Law enforcement said he threatened to bring a firearm into the Texas State Capitol and confront any law-enforcement official who challenged him.

In a recent email to JNS, Lloyd called the warrant, “fake.”

Lloyd, who grew up in the city’s east end, reportedly has Asperger’s syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder. He has been hospitalized after some outbursts. His connection with neo-Nazi and racist movements began in the 1990s when he joined the World Church of the Creator, founded in 1973 by Ben Klassen, a former Florida legislator and inventor of the wall-mounted electric can-opener.

Hale, a law student from Peoria, Ill., was “Pontifex Maximus” of Klassen’s church after the founder’s death. He is currently serving a 40-year sentence at the federal prison in Marion, Ill.

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