The United States was shaken to its very core this weekend. Two horrific massacres striking two small communities, one at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas and one at a Bar & Grill in Dayton, Ohio.
As the world watched in horror at what has become an all-too-regular kind of tragedy in America, the news media began to piece together suspects. Though the motives for one have been made a bit more clear by the revelation of an online manifesto posted moments before the attack, the motives in Dayton remained a bit of a mystery, until internet sleuths did their digging.
Who was the Dayton shooter?
A Twitter account with the handle @IamtheSpookster started to gain an online head of steam, as users started to comb through nearly 10,000 tweets of his. The user looked strikingly similar to the shooter, the user was clearly in the Dayton area, and above all, the shooter appeared to have an interest in fringe political movements. Specifically, the far-left and Antifa.
Spookster, as he will be referred to in this article, was a deeply troubled person beyond this. According to multiple former classmates of the gunman, Spookster had been suspended from school for compiling a “hit list” of people he wanted to kill, and a “rape list” of girls he wanted to rape.
The list came to prevalence after police said there was nothing in the background of the 24-year-old Spookster that would have disabled him from purchasing the .223-caliber rifle along with extended ammunition magazines that he used to open fire at a crowded Dayton bar.
A clearly troubled young man was able to get his hands onto a deadly weapon, and use it to cause mass pain. That’s sadly nothing new. Although the El Paso shooter’s intentions were much easier to read into, it takes a bit more investigating to fully understand.
An Antifa sympathizer?
Spookster both tweeted and retweeted a variety of posts that made his intentions much clearer. Antifascist posts, calls to arms, and sympathizing with terrorism were all clearly expressed.
Spookster retweeted sympathetic tweets about the Antifa terrorist “comrade” who entered an ICE facility in Washington, going so far as to call him a “martyr.” Spookster retweeted a post from a now-deleted account called “@tacticaldipshit,” which called for people who are being accused of terrorism “just for protesting” to instead “think about doing terrorist sh*t.”
Other tweets clearly show where his sympathies were on the recent Andy Ngo attack that took place in Oregon a few weeks ago. Ngo, a journalist who specializes in Antifa, was beaten by several masked members of Antifa at a street rally in Portland, to which he suffered a brain hemorrhage and a torn ear lobe, amongst other injuries.
Spookster retweeted a number of posts directly mocking Ngo which championed violence. “Arm, train, prepare” read one of his many posts. Other posts showed a direct obsession with what he perceived to be a growing neo-Nazi movement in America, with a willingness to deplatform those who Antifa deemed to be Nazis.
The account was all but confirmed to be the shooter’s when the account was deleted from Twitter, which has been commonplace for spree killers for years on the platform?—Though that never used to be the case. To this day, one can still very easily find the Twitter account of one of the brothers who conducted the Boston Marathon Massacre, who Tweeted “Ain’t no love in the heart of the city, stay safe people” directly after detonating a bomb which killed three people and injured several hundred others.
Was there an Antifa-motive?
None of this explicitly explains why Spookster decided to do what he did. Killing his sister and others at a bar and grill doesn’t exactly scream Antifa “activism.” But perhaps more clues could be found in who Spookster was following.
His account originally showed that he followed over 1300 people. The last account followed by Spookster was @accelerbot, a bot account which retweets all tweets which use the keyword “accelerationism.”
If “accelerationism” sounds familiar to you, there’s a good reason for it. The word came to prominence after the New Zealand Mosque shooter’s manifesto reached the public.
Accelerationism, in this sense, is defined as “the idea that violence should be used to push Western countries into becoming failed states. Adherents hope the collapse will give rise to radical, presently unthinkable changes in our society.”
The @accelerbot account was created in March 2019, the same month as the New Zealand massacre.
This is something that both the El Paso shooter and Spookster have in common. The El Paso shooter’s manifesto also included the word, as the term appears to be a new key that radicalized maniacs are using to rationalize such heinous actions.
The rise of accelerationism
In this sense, we see a far-left Antifa version of the idea. For a new, just society to arise, the status-quo must first be undermined to the point where it collapses. By leaving his account open for the masses to see, it creates a swarm of interest that garners more media attention, and actually stokes the flames underneath Antifa, further justifying this as an atrocity committed by “the left.” Like Alfred Pennyworth said in the Dark Knight, “Some men just want to watch the world burn.” This is the ethos of the accelerationist ideology, an ideology which is not exclusive to the far-right, as the SPLC would like you to believe.
You may have noticed that when talking about how many people Spookster followed, we said that the account showed he “originally followed over 1300 people.” While the @iamspookster account was gaining notoriety across the web, the number quickly dipped lower and lower, ending at around 1250 before finally getting deactivated.
This is because of users who were followed by @iamthespookster who blocked him or deactivated their accounts, thus removing all retweets of theirs from Spookster’s timeline. Many people were quick to attempt to erase their association with the shooter. Most notably, Jared Hold of Right Wing Watch, a journalist who has been previously linked to Antifa.
Though the El Paso shooter has garnered attention as being a white supremacist who followed in the New Zealand shooter’s footsteps, it’s doubtful that Spookster’s media coverage will continue in that same vein. The continually soft coverage of Antifa and actions committed by their sympathizers will continue, and it would be a shock to no one if the coverage of this particular tragedy focused solely on gun control, rather than political violence. The scapegoat role for that cause has already been assigned to El Paso.