A Pennsylvania man who threatened to shoot police officers for arresting his son over drug charges is part of a growing movement listed as a terrorist threat by top law enforcement agencies — right-wing extremist militias.
On Wednesday, The Patriot-News’ PennLive.com reported that 43-year-old Middlesex Township resident Michael Scott Filaroski threatened to shoot police for arresting his 18-year-old son, Colin Filaroski, on drug charges the younger man received on July 9 and 10. Middlesex Township police arrested the older Filaroski and charged him with two counts of terroristic threats, one of illegal possession of a firearm, and one count of carrying a firearm without a license. PennLive noted that Filaroski’s felony conviction in New Hampshire prevented him from carrying a firearm.
Court records obtained by PennLive show the police on the scene accused Michael Scott Filaroski of threatening to shoot “everyone involved in his son’s case, including heroin dealers, and said he had a 9mm handgun stuck in his waist.”
Pennsylvania’s Fox 43 news station reported that Colin Filaroski had 19 bags of heroin in his possession at the time of his arrest.
Police departments have been on high alert recently after several incidents this month where civilians deliberately targeted and killed cops. As Raw Story previously reported, three Baton Rouge police officers were killed on July 17, and earlier this month, five officers were killed by a gunman at a Black Lives Matter protest in Dallas. The targeting of police officers is seen by many as a response to police-related killings of black Americans, including Alton Sterling at a Baton Rouge convenience store and Philando Castile at a Minnesota traffic stop earlier in July.
But Michael Filaroski’s threats to shoot local police officers suggests he is part of the growing danger that right-wing extremists pose to law enforcement and civilians alike. As PennLive wrote, the court documents from his arrest noted that Filaroski, a white man, told police he was a member of a “Three Percent Militia.”
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the “Three Percenters” were founded in 2008, shortly after Barack Obama became President, by Michael Brian Vanderboegh, a veteran of the 1990s right-wing militia movement. The SPLC wrote that Vanderboegh’s group vows “to resist gun control laws with force if necessary.” The Alabama native’s rhetoric has inspired several attempted terrorist attacks, including a Georgia militiamen who tried to attack several cities with deadly toxins, as well as numerous people who have targeted Democratic Party offices throughout the country.
Though they have chapters throughout the U.S., the Three Percenters are just one group among hundreds of armed, right-wing militia organizations that have preached violent resistance against what they perceive as a “New World Order” infringing upon their traditional way of life.
As Newsweek reported in February, a study released last June by the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security found that based on a survey of 382 law enforcement groups, cops consider anti-government violence from right-wing militias to be a more immediate and serious domestic threat than terrorist attacks by Muslim extremists.
“Law enforcement agencies in the United States consider anti-government violent extremists, not radicalized Muslims, to be the most severe threat of political violence that they face,” the Triangle Center wrote.
The threat these groups pose to law enforcement officers in particular seems to still be higher than the danger posed by gunmen motivated by police killings of African-Americans. In a June 2015 op-ed, The New York Times’ Charles Kurzman and Schanzer wrote that the Department of Justice has sponsored a training program on the threat, with one handout noting how the militia groups have targeted cops:
“Since 2000, the handout notes, 25 law enforcement officers have been killed by right-wing extremists, who share a ‘fear that government will confiscate firearms’ and a ‘belief in the approaching collapse of government and the economy.'”
Penn Live reported that Michael Filaroski is currently in Cumberland County prison awaiting charges, and has his bail set for $150,000. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for August 1.