The Justice Department said Friday it had arrested the head of the Tennessee Ku Klux Klan on charges of firing a gun at a Nashville synagogue on June 9, 1990.
Leonard W. Armstrong, identified as the grand dragon of the Tennessee Klan, was arrested along with Jonathan D. Brown, associated with the Klan and the white-supremacist Aryan nation, the Justice Department said.The two were named in an indictment unsealed following their arrests Friday on federal civil rights charges.
The indictment, returned Dec. 10 by a federal grand jury in Nashville, charged that Armstrong conspired with an unidentified person to threaten, harass and intimidate Jews by shooting a gun into the West End Synagogue.
Ray Eganey, head of the FBI's Nashville office, said the shooting occurred between midnight and 1 a.m. when the synagogue was empty. Six or seven shots from a semiautomatic pistol hit the side of the building, causing minor damage, he said.
Armstrong, arrested in the Knoxville area, was also charged with using a firearm in the commission of a violent felony. The conspiracy charge carries a possible 10-year prison term upon conviction and a $250,000 fine. The weapons charge carries a mandatory five-year term on conviction.
Brown, arrested in Columbia, Tenn., was accused of being an accessory after the fact for allegedly trying to thwart the FBI's investigation. That charge carries a maximum five-year prison term upon conviction and a $125,000 fine.