The Hamptons condo and apartment complex in Tampa is quintessential Florida. Lush and modern, the stucco homes are painted in a soft rainbow of pastels. All around are palm trees, Spanish moss and lily pads.
“It is a very quiet place. You have a lot of children that live here. A lot of professionals live here, retirees,” said resident Michael Colon, 66.
But on May 19, that tranquility was shattered in an improbable case that involves four young roommates at the complex.
Two of the men are dead and the other two are in jail.
The story brings together fundamentalist Islam, neo-Nazis, guns and explosive materials — all under the same roof.
And the investigation has morphed to include Tampa police, the FBI, the ATF, the National Guard, as well as state and federal prosecutors.
From one extreme to another
The case began with a hostage drama.
Devon Arthurs, 18, was holding three people at gunpoint in a strip mall across the street from the Hamptons complex, according to police. Arthurs told police he was angry about U.S. military attacks in Muslim countries.
After 15 minutes, Tampa police persuaded Arthurs to surrender. He then led them to the apartment he shared with three other young men.
Arthurs said all four once held neo-Nazi beliefs (though some family members dispute this claim). But here’s the twist: Arthurs said he had converted to Salafi Islam, an ultraconservative form of the religion.
He told police he shot dead two of his roommates inside the apartment because they disrespected his new faith.
And the story kept growing stranger.