SEATTLE -- Using a red-flag law, Seattle police seized a cache of military-style weapons from a self-proclaimed neo-Nazi that authorities say is the state leader of a small but dangerous extremist group.
Documents filed in King County Superior Court detail how authorities believed there was significant danger that Kaleb Cole would harm people in the near future. Using an Extreme Risk Protection Order, police confiscated nine guns in Cole's possession in Snohomish County, including military-style weapons.
Seattle City Attorney's Office said the action "likely prevented a massacre by someone committed to advancing a race war."
According to court documents, Cole is a known leader in a dangerous white supremacist group. He's been on law enforcement's radar since at least 2018, when he was stopped at U.S. Customs upon returning from a trip to Europe.
Authorities searched his cell phone and found photos of him at various sites throughout Europe, displaying a white supremacist flag and performing the Nazi salute. He also posed in front of Auschwitz.
The group for which Cole is a state leader is nationally recognized as a terrorist organization by the Southern Poverty Law Center. It is known for its skull masks, antisemitic propaganda and organized "hate camps." Nationally, authorities claim the group is linked to five murders.
In Washington, police claimed Cole's risk of committing violence was ramping up. In a petition to seize his guns, police said his participation in organizing and recruiting at these "hate camps" in the state was concerning, "as it appears that he has gone from espousing hate to now taking active steps or preparation for an impending 'race war.'"
Authorities said at these camps, videos show members making threats of mass violence aimed at Jewish people and proclamations to start a "race war."
"Washington state residents should sleep a little easier knowing they have a team empowered to enforce firearm surrender court orders from those considered to be an extreme risk to public safety," the Seattle City Attorney's Office said in a statement sent to Q13 News.
Cole is not under arrest and has not been charged with a crime. The preemptive protection order allows authorities to confiscate his guns for up to a year.
The Extreme Risk Protection Order passed in Washington state in 2016. Only law enforcement officers, family or people living in the same house can petition the court to take away someone's guns. The court must find that the person displays a significant risk of hurting themselves or others.