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Richard Holzer Pleads Not Guilty In Bomb Plot At Pueblo's Temple Emanuel

DENVER (CBS4/AP) - The man accused of threatening to blow up a synagogue in Pueblo pleaded not guilty on Monday. Richard Holzer faces three federal charges surrounding the threat made to Temple Emanuel.

Richard Holzer
Richard Holzer (credit CBS)

Holzer is a known white supremacist who was arrested on Nov. 1 after making contact with an undercover FBI agent on Facebook. Unsealed federal court documents reveal the FBI became aware that he made racist, anti-Semitic and threatening statements on social media.

Federal public defender Mary Butterton entered three not guilty pleas Monday on behalf of 27-year-old Richard Holzer in U.S. District Court in Denver.

Holzer watched the brief hearing in shackles and a yellow jail jumpsuit. Members of Temple Emanuel sat together in the back of the courtroom.

Holzer is charged with attempting to obstruct the exercise of religion by force by using explosives and fire against Temple Emanuel in Pueblo.

He also is charged with attempted arson and using fire or an explosive device to commit a felony.

In the affidavit, FBI investigators said Holzer, who lives in Pueblo, explained to agents on Oct. 13 his plan to use arsenic to poison the synagogue on Oct. 31.

richard holzer
Richard Holzer (credit: CBS)

On Oct. 17, Holzer met with three FBI undercover agents at a restaurant in Colorado Springs. According to the affidavit, Holzer brought "various white supremacy paraphernalia as gifts for the (agents), including a flag, several patches, a metal Thor's hammer and a mask."

Temple Emanuel in Pueblo
Temple Emanuel in Pueblo (credit: CBS)

After the meeting, Holzer, an associate and the undercover agents drove to Pueblo to visit Temple Emanuel. Holzer allegedly stated that Molotov cocktails would not "be enough" to cause damage to it and the group discussed using pipe bombs from out of state.

"Let's get that place off the map," Holzer reportedly stated. "This is the big center for them here in town. Thing is, why not hit the heart, right?"

Richard Holzer
Richard Holzer (credit: El Paso County)

According to the affidavit, Holzer explained the attack on the synagogue would be "phase two" and "phase three" would be outside of Pueblo and "bigger and better."

On Oct. 23, one of the undercover agents sent Holzer pictures of what appear to be pipe bombs, with the message, "wanted to show you a little progress."

Holzer later replied that he was "honored to be a part of history, and more importantly the future of our folk. Heil."

Temple Emanuel in Pueblo
Temple Emanuel in Pueblo (credit: CBS)

On Oct. 31, and Nov. 1, Holzer met with undercover agents and "repeatedly affirmed that he was prepared to go through with the attack." Holzer reportedly said he didn't think anyone would be at the synagogue at the time but he didn't care if they were.

The FBI agents showed Holzer fake pipe bombs and dynamite, which Holzer said were "absolutely gorgeous."

Holzer was then arrested and allegedly admitted planning to blow up the synagogue.

"He referred to the plan as 'my mountain' and to Jews and the synagogue as a 'cancer' to the community," the affidavit states.

(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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