On Friday, 27-year-old Tyler Dinsmoor was arrested by the Oak Harbor Police Department in Washington after threatening to kill LGBTQ people at the Anacortes Pride Parade the following day.
According to court documents, Dinsmoor posted on social media that he “might not make it through this f** month,” and he “was 9mm away from fedposting two f****** at home depot yesterday.”
‘Fedposting’ is Internet slang for anything posted online that shows a premeditated planning of criminal activity.
According to the warrant issued in the case, Dinsmoor started focusing on the Anacortes Pride Parade that is scheduled to be held on June 18 and was asking people to “talk me out of it.”
These weren’t isolated incidents either. A woman renting a property near Dinsmoor heard him openly express his desire to murder gay people. She noticed the words “Bible Bigot” painted on his truck and heard him shout, “It used to be legal to kill gay people!” Regardless of context, the woman (who’s lesbian) told her kids not to go outside. She later saw Dinsmoor with a weapon. She also found out from another neighbor that Dinsmoore had pointed a gun at a Black man who was trying to return a fishing pole.
But none of that was quite as pointed as his postings on the right-wing Twitter clone Gab, where he repeatedly talked about the violence he so desperately wanted to commit:
At what point does this go from an expression of fundamentalist Christian beliefs, protecting by the First Amendment, to someone letting his followers know he’s going to commit an act of violence? That last screenshot, listing a specific event, with the implication that he’s going to do something violent unless someone stops him, may have been the last straw.
Combined with his open expressions of bigotry, police decided to take action before it was too late:
Also on May 2, the @dinsmoorsheepskins account posted a Photoshopped picture of a white man pointing a handgun at a group of people waving and holding a Pride flag.
On May 22, @dinsmoorsheepskins account posted, “I am Tyler and the Jews are responsible for just about every bad thing in this world, they are agents of Satan and deserve severe punishment for their nefarious deeds. They will go to hell. All homosexuals are child-rapists in wait, and all (every single one) should be put to death immediately. They will go to hell. Adulterers should be put to death, with no exceptions. White people are not responsible for the bad behavior of blacks, and the best case scenario is that we live separately, in our own nations. There is nothing more useless that a ‘career woman’ – it’s an abomination.”
A felony warrant was issued for Dinsmoor for civil rights malicious harassment with a hate crimes enhancement.
He was arrested on Friday, put in the Island County Jail, and his bail was set at $1,000,000. (The felony warrant said he presented “an extreme risk of actual violence in the near future.”) Many of the Gab posts in question were later deleted and his company, Dinsmoor Sheepskins, removed its social media presence as well. (Side note: This is case #22-1-00098-15 and the last name is listed as “Dinsmoore,” for anyone wanting a closer look at the charging documents.)
One thing that’s gone unmentioned in all of the news coverage surrounding his arrest, however, is how he may have been radicalized by his church.
As I was reading his comments, they struck me as identical to the rhetoric of many New Independent Fundamentalist Baptist preachers. And wouldn’t you know it, he even describes himself the way those hate-preachers do:
But which church does he belong to?
Well, earlier this month, Dinsmoor posted about a baptism done by “my pastor.” While the video in question has been deleted, the screenshot appears to show Aaron Thompson of Sure Foundation Baptist Church, which is in Vancouver, WA.
A video with the same title, also removed on a different website, can be directly traced back to Sure Foundation Baptist Church.
And Sure Foundation is about 4.5 hours away from Oak Harbor, which lines up with what Dinsmoor wrote in April about taking a “5 hour drive” to attend church. (Yes, there’s a state park near the church.)
Who is preacher Aaron Thompson? He’s a guy who’s repeatedly called for the murder of LGBTQ people. He always insists the government ought to do it, as a way to distance himself from promoting vigilantism, but the fear from critics like me has always been that’s his followers would take action on their own in order to please their God. Thompson might not pull the trigger, but he’s indirectly encouraging others to do it.
Just look at the dates of these sermon clips, all from May. They line up with the time Dinsmoor was posting or making many of his own threats.
I reached out yesterday to Thompson for comment about his apparent parishioner. He has not responded.
This isn’t just about Thompson, though. Dinsmoor’s arrest was the result of being indoctrinated into believing the worst kind of lies about LGBTQ people. The conservative Christians in his echo chamber just constantly reinforce the hate speech that thrives in right-wing circles, and the people who disagree but exist in those circles rarely have the courage to condemn it.
If the police had not arrested Dinsmoor, what would have happened during Saturday’s Pride event? We just don’t know. But had Dinsmoor committed an act of violence, we can safely say he would’ve felt justified in doing so based on his Christian faith and the encouragement of those who share his religious and political views. It’s not that far of a leap to go from violent rhetoric to violent action. The fact that a man like this owns a “semi-automatic rifle and other guns” only makes the violence more likely.