Christian extremist: Austin gunman a 'high priest' of fringe Phineas movement
Larry Steve McQuilliams (Facebook)

Larry Steve McQuilliams, the man who went on a shooting spree in downtown Austin last weekend, was a member of a Christian Identity movement known as the Phineas Priesthood, according to Bill Morlin of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The Phineas Priesthood is a Christian Identity cult originating in the Pacific Northwest that opposes miscegenation, homosexuality, and excessive governmental taxation. It gets its name from the biblical figure Phinehas, who executed an Israelite man who was having sexual relations with an idolatrous Midianite women.

In the biblical account, God praised Phineas for stopping yet another polytheistic Midianite woman from seducing one of his Chosen people and grants "his seed" an everlasting priesthood for his monotheistic service. According to the Phineas Priesthood, however, God rewarded Phineas for preventing an interracial union -- even though Midian himself was a son of Abraham, and Moses was married to Zipporah, the daughter of Jethro, a priest of Midian.

The Phineas Priesthood is not a cult, as there are no meetings and membership only entails adopting and acting upon its beliefs, which include murdering homosexuals, interracial couples, and abortion doctors. In the 1990s, three men in Portland were arrested after robbing banks and bombing the Spokesman-Review.

McQuilliams was arrested in 1993 and sent to federal prison for his role in a bank robbery.

In Vigilantes of Christendom, a 1990 book -- often sold at gun shows, but now available online -- that was found in McQuilliams' apartment, Richard Kelly Hoskins wrote that "as the kamikaze is to the the Phineas priest is to Christendom."

Inside McQuilliams' copy of the book was a handwritten note that referred to him as a “priest in the fight against anti-God people,” Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo said.

"It makes little difference," Hoskins also wrote, "whether you agree or disagree with the Phineas Priesthood. It is important that you know that it exists, is active, and in the near future may become a central fact in your life...The simple fact is -- one who is willing to give his life for what he believes cannot be ignored."

McQuilliams had written "let me die" across his chest before embarking on his 2 a.m. shooting spree.