Antifa’s Denver Shooting: New Trends in Left-Wing Political Violence, Syrian Connections, and Sub-cultures

Publication: Terrorism Monitor Volume: 18 Issue: 20


Prosecutors have charged Matthew Dolloff with second-degree murder for killing navy veteran and cowboy-style hat-maker, Lee “Tex” Keltner, in Denver’s Civic Center Park on October 10 (CBS [Denver], October 29; AngusTV, 2011). Before his death, Keltner joined a ‘patriot rally’ organized by former CIA security contractor, John “Tig” Tiegen, to “take OUR country back” from “communist socialists” (, October 10). Tiegen defended the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi when al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM)’s Libyan sub-affiliate, Ansar al-Sharia, killed ambassador Christopher Stevens, another diplomat, and two former Navy Seal CIA agents on the 11th anniversary of 9/11. Now, Tiegen leads Patriot Muster in whose name the rally was held (The Gazette [Colorado Springs], October 11).

The rally was livestreamed by independent reporter Brian Loma and featured interviews of Tiegen and Gulf War Air Force veteran Casper Stockham, who unsuccessfully ran on the Republican ticket in 2016 to become Colorado’s then first Black congressperson, and lost again in 2020 (YouTube, October 11). Denver Antifa activists and allies, including the socialist-feminist Women’s International Terrorist Conspiracy from Hell (W.I.T.C.H), however, consider Stockham a “fascist” for his closeness to Patriot Muster, Colorado Proud Boys, and Donald Trump supporters (, February 21; Facebook/WITCHDenver, September 4, 2019). Denver Communists (a.k.a. Party for Socialism and Liberation), which is supported by Denver’s Black Lives Matters movement, W.I.T.C.H, and Colorado Socialist Revolution, therefore, organized an “Antifa-Black Lives Matter soup drive” to counter the “fash [fascist] scum” Patriot Muster, whose rally-goers held pro-Trump and ‘Socialism Sucks’ signs, wore tactical vests and caps emblazoned with ‘1776,’ and listened to Lee Greenwood’s country song, ‘God Bless The U.S.A.’ (, October 17; [Denver], October 13;, September 18).

This article details the cocktail of left-wing groups and individuals that comprise Antifa in Denver, including their tactics, targets, personnel, and historical evolution, and shows how an intense ideological ecosystem under the stresses of a presidential election and pandemic resulted in the fatal shooting of Lee Keltner.

Inside Denver Antifa Activism

After Patriot Muster’s rally, which was partitioned to separate rally-goers from Antifa activists carrying an ‘America Was Never Great’ banner and umbrellas for use as ‘tear gas shields,’ police facilitated rally-goers’ egress. However, Brian Loma’s livestream captured Jeremiah Elliott, who was with Antifa, accosting and taunting rally-goers just before Dolloff shot Keltner (YouTube, October 11;, October 19). Elliott’s confrontations allowed reporters to record rally-goers’ verbally sparring with Elliott, who wore a ‘Black Guns Matter’ shirt and wanted “to make white supremacists feel uncomfortable” (, October 23;, October 13). These images without context could have made Patriot Muster, including Keltner, who wore a ‘Bikers Lives Matter’ shirt, appear as aggressors in the media.

Elliott also wore his ‘Black Guns Matter’ shirt at a Denver Bernie Sanders rally in February, where Elliott brawled with a white Sanders supporter, who disliked Elliott’s shirt and called Elliott, who is Black, a racist. Elliott, however, countered that “Black people have historically been restricted from firearm ownership” and that he received the shirt at a conceal-carry class. He also expressed disappointment that the Sanders rally did not have “inclusivity and safe spaces,” the lack of which Elliot said he would expect “at a Trump rally” (CBS [Denver], February 17).

Colorado-based independent investigative reporter Angela Ramirez, who tracks “Marxist influence in American politics,” including Antifa and the anti-government, anti-police, and sometimes Antifa- and Black Lives Matter-aligned Boogaloo Bois, also tweeted videos of Elliott at a July 25 Antifa black-bloc night ‘action’ (, October 30; Star Tribune [Minnesota], October 24; Oakland County Times [Michigan], October 9). Elliott wore a ‘Fuc* The Police’ shirt and commandeered Black Lives Matter chants, including “Say His [Elijah McClain’s] Name” and “No Justice, No Peace,” alongside Denver Antifa ‘comrade,’ Michael Windecker (, October 15). Antifa then started fires at a Denver suburb’s courthouse, broke courthouse windows, and pointed lasers and threw fireworks at police officers (CBS [Denver], July 25).

Michael Windecker calls himself a Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) “soldier” and “proud Fuc*ing Communist.” He fought with Syrian-based Kurdish-led People’s Protection Units (YPG), whom he refers to as “Antifa freedom fighters,” and Iraqi-based Peshmerga against Islamic State. Daily Beast profiled Windecker, whose alias was “Necromancer,” on Kirkuk’s frontlines in 2015 (Daily Beast, April 20, 2015). However, it published a follow-up article after learning Windecker’s multiple arrests included third-degree sexual assault of a 14-year old boy (Daily Beast, April 27, 2015).

Marxism, Rojava, and Rap

Michael Windecker and Jeremiah Elliott embrace revolutionary socialism, which is an influential intellectual undercurrent of Antifa and Black Lives Matters movement leaders, including the latter’s co-founder, Patrisse Cullors, and former fiscal sponsor’s board member, former Weather Underground and Black Liberation Army member, Susan Rosenberg (, 2020;, February 26, 2018;, May 24, 2017; New York Times, December 1, 1984). At a July 12 Denver Communists event, Windecker, for example, wore Antifa black-bloc and distributed makeshift ‘riot shields’ by his car, which was spray-painted to commemorate Black massage therapist, Elijah McClain, who died from a chokehold during an altercation with police near Denver in 2019 (, October 21). Elliott also chanted with a loudspeaker at Denver Communists’ September 12 procession where white activists held “N.W.A Was Right” signs, referring to the Compton, California-based and Dr. Dre-led hip hop group’s 1998 gangsta rap hit, “Fuc* tha Police” (Facebook/denvercommunists, September 12).

Other videos show Elliott participating in Denver Antifa black-bloc ‘actions’ to break police fencing, calling Casper Stockham a “house [n-word],” and denying “membership” in any group or knowing Windecker, even though Antifa’s anarchist-inspired decentralized organizational model precludes formal membership and Elliot conducted ‘actions’ with Windecker (, October 19;, October 23). A New York Times photographer also tweeted a picture of Elliott wearing his ‘Fuc* The Police’ shirt at a 2014 rally in New York led by Al Sharpton’s National Action Network (, August 24, 2014). It took place following the death of Black horticulturalist Eric Garner in a police chokehold while resisting arrest for selling unlicensed cigarettes near Elliott’s hometown in Brooklyn. Then 20-year-old Elliott told New York Post “the majority of police officers are bad” (NY Post, August 23, 2014). Sometime afterward, Elliott gained employment at a marijuana dispensary in Denver, which legalized the drug in 2014. He relocated there and continued his activism, including in the months before and on the day of Lee Keltner’s death (NBC [New York], February 18, 2019).

Before Elliott’s July 25 Antifa night ‘action’ at the courthouse, he also joined a daytime Denver Communists highway protest sporting his ‘Fuc* The Police’ shirt (, October 21). Also joining the highway protest was Colorado Afro Liberation Front co-director, Gabriel “Echo” Lavine, who one month earlier joined with Antifa black-bloc activists to tear down Denver Civic Center Park’s Christopher Columbus monument (, June 27). They were also at the October 10 Patriot Muster counter-rally (Lavine identifies as a non-binary queer Black person and uses they/their pronouns) (, October 29;, September 14). However, University of Colorado residence hall employee, Samuel Young, became the highway protest’s most noteworthy activist by shooting at a jeep that drove past the human barricade, but in addition to the jeep, he also hit two fellow protesters (YouTube, July 25). Young was later identified by colleagues, who recognized his ‘Justice for Elijah McClain’ shirt (CBS [Denver], July 28).

Young’s blog post before the highway protest indicated his inspiration from YPG women’s units and their northern Syria-based semi-autonomous state, Rojava, and his concern about a “police state that disproportionately targets black people” and Donald Trump’s “threatening to designate Antifa” as a terrorist organization (, July 25). His previous post explained his support for the Black Lives Matter movement and “admonishment of the system which led to these conditions” (, July 16). Gabriel “Echo” Lavine, whose mission includes “changing the nature of policing in America” that is “rooted in the oppression of Black bodies,” stated the district attorney’s charging of only the Black Lives Matter supporter, Young, and not the jeep driver, who like Young is white, was a “miscarriage of justice” (Fox31 [Denver], September 31).

The Denver Shooter’s Profile

Although Denver media and police initially claimed Matthew Dolloff was a “private security guard” for news reporters and had “no affiliation with Antifa” after he shot Keltner, Pinkerton, the security company allegedly employing Dolloff, denied knowing him (9news, October 11). It turned out Pinkterton’s sub-contractor hired Dolloff, despite not observing certain protocols (, October 19). Moreover, Dollof’s crab-shaped wrist tattoo, which was originally designed by renowned Japanese video game developer Tomohiro Nishikado, also has been the logo for Pink Antifa Vienna for Free Love and Anarchy’s ‘Space Invaders Against Racism’ sticker campaign and Denver dubstep-style music company ‘Sub[dot]mission’ (, 2020). The company, whose concerts Dolloff attended, promoted Denver’s ‘Die-in’ protest after George Floyd’s death and Black Lives Matter movement-endorsed bail funds, including Colorado Freedom Fund, which, according to Gabriel “Echo” Lavine, posted Samuel Young’s $75,000 bail (Denver Post, June 4;, June 4;, June 5;, July 29).

Dolloff’s ex-girlfriend confirmed he once had “alot of the same views [as Antifa]” (Daily Mail, October 13). He also married shortly before the shooting, according to a selfie-video filmed at his rural Colorado farm (YouTube, April 29). His social media accounts further indicated affinity for left-wing politics, activists, causes, and movements. These included socialism and Bernie Sanders, but not Joe Biden, who Dolloff described as an “establishment prick”; The Minority Report with Sam Seder’s late Michael Brooks, The Young Turks’ Cenk Uygur and Ana Kasparian, and Women’s March co-organizer Linda Sarsour, who all supported Bernie Sanders; the 2014 Ferguson, Missouri protests after Michael Brown’s death, climate justice in the Philippines and ‘kayaktivism’ in Portland against Royal Dutch Shell, and Catalonian ‘freedom’ from Spain; and, lastly, Black Lives Matter, Occupy, and Antifa (, September 3, 2019). Dollof, for example, called Donald Trump supporters racists, the Confederate flag equivalent to the swastika, and the U.S. executive branch a “fascist dictatorship” (, October 12).

Dolloff was formerly an Occupy Denver protester in 2011 and believed “corporations kill America” and sprayed graffiti stating “[We are the] 99%” in Denver public places (Getty Images, November 12, 2011). However, he shifted from an economic to Antifa-aligned “anti-fascist” orientation (YouTube, 2011). This became a common trajectory for left-wing activists over the past decade, resulting in a growing, but counter-intuitive, synthesis between global corporations and left-wing activism (Other Life, July 2, 2019;, June 16). The former has financially supported and the latter has embraced socio-racial, policing, and Trump presidency-related, but not necessarily economic, activism since Trayvon Martin’s 2012 death; the 2013 formation of the Black Lives Matter movement through Patrisse Cullors’ posting a #BlackLivesMatter hashtag on the Facebook page of co-founder Alicia Garza, who identifies as a queer social justice activist and Marxist and was a prominent San Francisco community organizer (she was then called Alicia Schwartz, but changed her surname after marrying transgender male juvenile justice activist, Malachi Garza); and the Black Lives Matter movement’s mass mobilizations after Michael Brown’s 2014 death. Dolloff, for instance, posted on Facebook “No Justice! No Peace! Fuc* the Police!” for his first time after Martin was shot and killed in an altercation with an Orlando, Florida neighborhood watch volunteer (Facebook/matt29680, July 29, 2012;, October 17).

Likewise, Occupy Denver’s mission is currently “to get every killer cop off the streets” and oppose “racist militants,” including Patriot Muster rally-goers and “fascist white supremacists” who promote them on Twitter ( [Denver], September 19, 2019). Such Twitter users mentioned by Occupy Denver included Indian-American Dinesh D’Souza, Vietnamese-American Andy Ngo, Malaysian-American Ian Miles Cheong, Filipino-American Michelle Malkin, and white Turning Point USA founder, Charlie Kirk, who have more than seven million combined followers (Facebook/occupydenver, October 11). In contrast, Occupy Denver’s main focus is no longer on “police being part of the 99%” for protecting economic elites like it was in 2011 (, October 13, 2011).

Antifa and the Media

Matthew Dolloff’s shooting occurred immediately after Jeremiah Elliott dared Lee Keltner to “mace me [n-word].” After moving away from Elliott, Keltner slapped Dolloff when Dolloff tried grabbing his mace. Dolloff and Keltner then stepped back and Dolloff shot Keltner in the head while Keltner sprayed mace. Denver Post reporter Helen Richardson, who was following Elliott, snapped photographs of Dolloff’s shooting (Denver Post, October 12). Additionally, Brian Loma’s livestream captured scenes surrounding the shooting. ‘America First’ commentator Michelle Malkin further tweeted Joseph Camp’s video of Elliott screaming, “one less white supremacist…fuc* yeah…right in the fuc*ing dome [head]!” after the shooting (, October 14). Camp’s media team, which operates undercover to avoid Antifa activists’ noticing their recordings and assaulting them, shares videos of Antifa ‘actions’ with “right-leaning influencers” like Malkin (, September 25). His media team also recorded Antifa’s burning an American flag in front of police officers and throwing soup cans at them during the October 10 Patriot Muster counter-rally (YouTube, October 14).

It remains unclear whether Elliott knew reporters like Helen Richardson were following him to record his confrontations with Patriot Muster rally-goers and why Dolloff provided unlicensed security for NBC-affiliated 9news reporter, Zack Newman. Keltner was close enough to Newman that Keltner demanded he stop recording him just before his entanglement with Dolloff. Newman, however, covers bias-motivated crimes for 9news, including when Patriot Front (no relation to Patriot Muster) member Samuel Cordova spray-painted ‘No More Commies’ on a Denver bookshop that hosted third-grade schoolteacher Stuart Sanks’ (a.k.a Miss Shirley Delta Blow) ‘drag queen storytime for kids’ in November 2019, which Cordova alleged was “associated with Antifa” (9news, November 25, 2019). Since Newman walked with Dolloff and was nearby Elliott and Dolloff when Dolloff shot Keltner, Newman may, therefore, have sought to report on any Patriot Muster rally-goers’ bias-motivated incidents against Elliott, such as if they called him a racial slur or assaulted him, just as he had previously reported on Patriot Front’s Cordova (9news, October 13).

Patriot Front, for its part, specializes in vandalism campaigns and promotes ‘pan-European’ American identity and aligns with Colorado’s Proud Boys chapter and Boogaloo Bois, respectively, to oppose ‘pedophilia’ and gun rights restrictions. However, Patriot Front rejects Proud Boys’ racial inclusiveness and Boogaloo Bois’ obsession with online memes and sympathy towards Antifa and Black Lives Matter (Proud Boys chairman Enrique Tarrio is a Black Cuban-American and its Colorado chapter head Louie Huey claims to be Latino) (, 2020;, October 27; 9news, November 25, 2019;, October 4, 2019). On the other end, Antifa aligns with Denver Communists, Denver’s Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) chapter—whose New York and Detroit chapters’ members include U.S. House Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib—and even Patriot Front, in opposing U.S. sanctions on Iran. However, Antifa condemns Denver Communists’ policy of “self-defense” by simply “outnumbering fascists” like Patriot Front at rallies as well as DSA’s “avoiding physical confrontations with fascists” by relying on de-escalation and ‘marshals’ to “maintain order and safety” (, January 20; Twitter/DenverCommies, October 5).

Newman has also covered Antifa black-bloc ‘actions’ alongside Antifa activists and fellow 9news reporter, Jordan Chavez, who has worn black-bloc (, October 29). A Colorado Black Lives Matter Twitter account, which supports Antifa “comrades who dress in [black]-bloc,” further promised to keep “100% safe…one of [our]” 9news newscasters, Kyle Clark, three days before Dolloff’s shooting (, October 7;, October 24). Therefore, mutual relationships appear to have existed between Dolloff and Denver reporters near the shooting, who recorded the photogenic Elliott’s confrontations with Patriot Muster rally-goers. Further, Dolloff’s lawyer noted during his first court appearance that Elliott now considers Dolloff “a hero” (, October 23). Elliott also studied broadcasting at Brooklyn’s Kingsborough Community College and referred to “our news company” in interviews after the shooting (9news, October 15; CBS [Denver], October 20).

Moreover, Brian Loma, who is a left-wing nemesis of Joseph Camp, is not only an independent reporter, but also Occupy Denver’s leader. He should have crossed paths with Dolloff through their local activism and Elliott though his reporting on Antifa, including at the July 25 highway protest. Loma, like 9news reporters, was also allowed by Antifa to record its July 2 clashes with police officers, who used pepper balls to counter Antifa’s spraying irritants and throwing items at them (CBS [Denver], July 2). Antifa sought to establish a Denver Civic Center Park ‘autonomous zone’ modeled on the rapper Solomon “Raz” Simone-led Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ) in Seattle, which was disbanded in June after two shootings occurred there, and anarchist-Marxist semi-autonomous states like Rojava and aspiring separatist regions like Catalonia, which ‘international socialists’ believe has countered Spain’s “nationalist turn” (Seattle Times, June 21;, May 2, 2019). Given Elliott’s hostility to reporters who negatively portray Antifa’s ‘actions’ by documenting its destruction of property and sub-lethal violence against ‘fascists,’ instead of showing police aggression against Antifa and Blacks Lives Matter supporters, any reporter consistently close to Elliott before Dolloff’s shooting presumably had his approval (, October 17). Either way, the intended media spectacle involving Elliott to make “white supremacists feel uncomfortable” resulted in Dolloff’s lethal political violence against Keltner.