ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Months after three men were arrested, accused of attacking a Jewish victim during a Nazi rally in Orange County, the sheriff’s office released a video interview with one of the suspects.
Joshua Terrell, 46; Jason Brown, 47; and Burt Colucci, 45, the leader of the National Socialist Movement, the Kissimmee-based hate group behind the rally, according to the Anti-Defamation League, were arrested in February after the neo-Nazi rally held on Jan. 29 near Alafaya Trail and Waterford Lakes Parkway became violent, deputies said.
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Terrell later spoke to a detective, insisting he wasn’t involved in “no hate crime,” after he and two other Nazi group members hit, pepper-sprayed and stole the phone of the Jewish victim, a University of Central Florida student, who was driving by the rally.
The victim told investigators as he drove by, one of the Nazi group members, Colucci, spat into the sunroof of his car, prompting the victim to get out of the vehicle and get into an argument with the group, displaying a Star of David charm on his necklace and announcing that he was Jewish.
“He did stop his car in the middle of traffic, show his emblem,” Terrell said “(He showed) a Jew star. Star of David. He pulled it out and said, ‘I’m a Jew.’ He started to make a big deal about it.”
Later on in the interview, he said he only remembered seeing the victim’s Star of David upon watching cellphone video of the incident.
The self-identifying Nazi said he was holding and waving a flag at the rally before he went over to “detain” the victim upon hearing secondhand information that the victim was attacking a 74-year-old demonstrator, known by the other group members as “Grandfather.”
“I felt like I needed to assist because he was trying to take off. He was trying to get in his car and leave after he assaulted (Grandfather),” he said. “There was no hate crime there. I was minding my business until one of mine got assaulted. My objective was to hold (the victim), not let him leave the scene.”
That’s when Terrell engaged in a shoving match with the victim, repeatedly punching him, before other members of the Nazi group joined in, pepper-spraying and hitting the victim, deputies said.
Investigators said cell phone video from the scene showed the Nazi members shouting anti-Semitic slurs at the victim throughout the beating. Records show Terrell was also caught on video bragging about hitting the victim during the encounter.
After being shown video of the incident, Terrell told the detective during the interview that he was the one in danger, the one who was spit on and at risk of getting shot because he was a Nazi. Terrell also said he was trying to protect the older Nazi group member.
“I wouldn’t let anyone walk away assaulting a 70-year-old man,” Terrell said. “It wouldn’t matter—Black, white, yellow, green. I wouldn’t.”
When asked by the detective if he holds “any anti-Jewish sentiment,” Terrell denied any anti-Semitic tendencies.
“No, I’ve never even dealt with Jews. I’ve been in prison most of my life,” he said. “I’m educated. Pretty much everything in this country is owned by the Jews. They own the banking system.”
Brown, who faces charges for stealing and destroying the Jewish student’s cell phone, declined to talk to a detective, saying, “I have no idea what I did.”
Keith Dvorchik, CEO of the Roth Family Jewish Community Center in Maitland and Executive Director of the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando, called the video “sad.”
“It’s no different than the (racist) manifesto (allegedly written by 18-year-old shooting suspect Payton Gendron) in Buffalo, it’s no different than people who attack African American churches or attack Asian people. It’s all based on the same hatred, it’s all based on, ‘You’re different from me,’” Dvorchik said. “Whether it’s Jews, whether it’s the LGBTQ community, the African American community, the Asian community or the Muslim community, it doesn’t really matter. It’s about, ‘They’re different from me so I have to hate them.’”
Dvorchik said it’s sad that Terrell, who admitted during the interview with the detective he knows nothing about Jewish people, traveled to Orlando for an anti-Semitic rally to hold a flag that represents hatred of that group.
“We should be getting to know each other and learn from each other,” Dvorchikl said. “It doesn’t mean that I have to be right and you’re wrong. We can just be different. We need leadership to step up and actually lead us in togetherness. And stop trying to fight. And stop trying to just be right.”
An interview for Colucci, who faces battery charges for spitting on the Jewish student, was not provided by the sheriff’s office.
This comes as a slew of other anti-Semitic attacks and incidents are being investigated by law enforcement officials across Central Florida, the most recent of which involves Nazi graffiti spray-painted on an Ormond Beach home.