AUSTIN — Amid violence and murder at riots nationwide, three members of antifa, a radical military group, have been arrested in Texas’ capital city for burglarizing a local Target store.
Lisa Hogan, Samuel Miller, and Skye Elder were arrested last week and charged with various state jail felonies after they smashed into a boarded-up Target, destroyed and ripped out surveillance cameras, and looted the store, stealing and damaging over $20,000 in property. Hogan is also suspected of streaming a Facebook Live video during the burglary and encouraging others to join them.
According to the FBI and state and local law enforcement officials, who are conducting ongoing investigations statewide into the violence at recent riots, all three suspects in the Austin case are known members of the self-identified communist/socialist antifa group.
“The protest and looting of Target in Austin that was done and organized by an Antifa web page and of course, the surveillance that was provided over the Internet identifying where law enforcement resources were staged, was done over Antifa accounts,” said Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McGraw.
“We’re seeing a movement right now where either antifa groups or alt-groups are intermixing in with what are planned, peaceful protests and demonstrations for the purpose of violent or criminal activities or vandalism,” said Austin Police Chief Brian Manley on Friday, when speaking to the city council.
“The violence, threat to life, and destruction of property we have seen in Austin and other parts of the country jeopardizes the rights and safety of all citizens, including peaceful demonstrators,” said Special Agent in Charge Christopher Combs of FBI San Antonio.
The Austin case comes amid the chaos of ongoing violence and tragedy at destructive riots nationwide. In the wake of the riots, not only have countless citizens in poorer communities watched their small businesses and livelihoods be set on fire and destroyed, but numerous citizens have been shot or murdered, including 77-year-old retired police captain David Dorn, who was gunned down by a protestor in St. Louis while trying to keep a local pawn shop from being looted.
Some of the violence nationwide could be coordinated, according to a Federal Department of Justice official, who says they’ve seen signs of “very organized” coordination from “professional” agitators. President Donald Trump has also recently announced his intention to list antifa as a terrorist organization.
Texas DPS Director McGraw says, “We are talking about violent extremists. There’s anarchists. There’s Antifa, but there are also criminals that are using this as an opportunity to exploit and to loot and hurt others. That’s happened.”
“We have a long memory,” he added. “We have recorded evidence, and we will continue to investigate each and every event to identify those individuals who were involved in criminal conduct and make the appropriate arrests based on probable cause and getting prosecution from either the district attorney or U.S. Attorney’s Office.”