Edmonds journalist is targeted by hate group
Chris Ingalls says Atomwaffen threat will not stop KING 5 from its reporting
Last updated 3/5/2020 at 8:25am
Despite receiving a threatening letter from a violent extremist group, KING 5 investigative reporter and Edmonds resident Chris Ingalls says his station will continue to cover the Neo-Nazi hate group Atomwaffen Division.
This after Ingalls – who has reported several times on Atomwaffen's firearms training camps in Washington state – was targeted by the group.
"We're certainly not going to stop covering this group because of these threats," he said.
It was on Feb. 26 that the Department of Justice announced that four racially motivated, violent extremists from across the U.S. were arrested and charged in U.S District Court in Seattle with a conspiracy to threaten and intimidate journalists and activists. In Seattle on Wednesday, prosecutors unsealed a conspiracy charge against Kaleb James Cole, 24, a leader of Atomwaffen's chapter in Washington, accusing him of sending threatening mail and cyberstalking.
The others charged were Cameron Brandon Shea, 24, of Redmond, described as a high-level recruiter for the group who was arrested at his night shift at Fred Meyer in Kirkland; Taylor Ashley Parker-Dipeppe, 20, of Spring Hill, Florida.; and Johnny Roman Garza, 20, of Queen Creek, Arizona.
Ingalls learned of the threats in late January when he was called into the United States Attorney's Office, where he was met by the assistant U.S. attorney and two FBI agents.
"I'd probably put about a half dozen stories on the air at that point," Ingalls said. "They told me information about me had surfaced in their investigation into Atomwaffen, which I knew they'd been investigating, and that they thought that I was a target."
They told him Atomwaffen members could be coming to his house that weekend.
"So that, of course, put a shudder through me," Ingalls said. "The rest of the conversation was kind of a blur. I knew how dangerous these guys were."
He was told a member of the joint terrorism task force would be stationed outside his Edmonds home that weekend."
No Atomwaffen members showed up.
But a few days later, Ingalls opened his mailbox and found a disturbing letter. It included his name and personal cellphone number and read: "Two Can Play at This Game." Ingalls thinks it referred to a time when he went to Cole's home last year while reporting on federal authorities' seizure of Cole's guns.
According to Brian T. Moran, a U.S. attorney for the Western District of Washington, the defendants used an encrypted online chat group to identify journalists and activists they wanted to intimidate, focusing on those who were Jewish or people of color.
The group collected personal information on the journalists and activists, including their home addresses, the office said.
After getting the letter, Ingalls, his wife, and three kids spent a couple of nights at a hotel.
"The kids know what Dad does and that every now and then I bring home information on somebody that I'm doing stories on," he said. "I tell them to be aware, that I am a public figure and to go to an adult if they feel anything is suspicious.
"It's hard to read the impact that had on the kids, but I'm sure it was pretty significant that we had to leave our house to get away from these neo-Nazis. It has not ended because of these arrests. We're all still very concerned."
Will the investigative journalist still cover hate groups such as Atomwaffen?
"That's both a journalistic discussion that we're having right now and also a legal one because I am a witness in a criminal case. I may be called to testify. I will say that since I received this threat letter, we have put two stories related to Atomwaffen on the air. So we're certainly not going to stop covering this group because of these threats."
Atomwaffen, which is German for "atomic weapon," is an extreme organization active in several states in addition to Washington.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups, Atomwaffen "believes that violence, depravity, and degeneracy are the only sure way to establish order in their dystopian and apocalyptic vision of the world. (Their) chief influences are James Mason, Charles Manson, Joseph Tommasi, and William Pierce.
"They are also followers of Adolf Hitler," Ingalls said. "They clearly have an anti-Jewish, anti-Semitic kind of vein running through them. But they also follow Charles Manson, the mass murderer, who was out to start a race war with African Americans. So you just take the belief that they hate anybody that's not like them."
The threatening poster Ingalls received had "Death to pigs" scrawled at the top, which the Manson family murderers scrawled on the wall – in blood – at the home of Rosemary and Leno LaBianca during their two-day killing spree.
Through it all, Ingalls said he and his wife have received plenty of support.
"My wife put out a post that said we're feeling the love much more than we feel hate. And that's really the way it's been. We've been overwhelmed by the reaction we've had from the Edmonds community and from other journalists who are saying, 'Keep doing what you're doing.' I really do appreciate, and we get strength from, each and every message we've received."