The former lawyer for the Proud Boys allegedly utilized members of the fascist street gang in a plot to kill a man he’s been embroiled in a legal battle with, police in Texas say.
Jason Lee Van Dyke, 39, allegedly used the Arizona chapter of the Proud Boys in 2018 to monitor a Phoenix man who filed a bar complaint against him, according to documents obtained by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
The alleged target, Thomas Retzlaff, reportedly obtained an audio recording through a Freedom of Information Act request that indicated Van Dyke plotted to kill him and his lawyer. In the “secret audio recording by an FBI informant,” Van Dyke allegedly admitted to several plots to kill Retzlaff. A police report filed in Oak Point, Texas, a suburb north of Dallas, said Van Dyke had “members of the Proud Boys Arizona Chapter on the ground doing surveillance on Tom Retzlaff.”
Retzlaff and Van Dyke have been trading blows for years amid a civil court battle that recently ended in Van Dyke’s suspension from the Texas State Bar (though his legal status has reportedly been reinstated). In his lawsuit, Van Dyke accused Retzlaff of defamation and harassment, among other claims.
That battle unearthed new documents in March, when Retzlaff filed a motion to dismiss a Van Dyke suit against him. In the motion, attorney Jeffrey Dorrell said he’d obtained a recording from an FBI informant detailing Van Dyke’s “plans for an ambush and assassination of not only Retzlaff but his counsel.”
That dismissal was later denied, The Daily Beast reported.
For his part, Van Dyke has repeatedly denied the allegations. But it doesn’t take covert recordings to corroborate his penchant for death threats. According to the SPLC, he wrote in a Dec. 12, 2018, email to Retzlaff, “Go fuck yourself and what’s left of your miserable life …. You have destroyed my life, and for that offense, you will pay with your own. That’s not a threat. That’s a PROMISE motherfucker.”
Separately, Van Dyke also admitted to HuffPost in 2017 that he threatened to kill a “fucking n****r” as well as an entire family during his time as a member of the Proud Boys. The gang says it kicked him out in late 2018, though it has denied associations with him after multiple incidents over the years.
“No litigant, including Retzlaff, should be forced to bear the stress and expense of seeking protection from an attorney’s abuse and threats of murder,” Dorrell wrote in the motion to dismiss.
Van Dyke and the Proud Boys have a history of violent plots dating back to the neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017 that was organized in part by a since-ousted Proud Boy member. The Proud Boys have repeatedly been arrested and convicted in attacks against their anti-fascist rivals at political events, and HuffPost has unearthed private messages proving that they spend time before rallies plotting violence and planning how to deflect blame once the dust settles.