MILWAUKEE -- A 23-year-old Milwaukee man accused of plotting a mass shooting at a Masonic temple has been indicted by a grand jury. The indictment, filed Tuesday, February 9th, charges Samy Mohammed Hamzeh with three counts of knowingly receiving and possessing a firearm not registered to him. Those firearms include two machine guns and a silencer.
Hamzeh pleaded not guilty to all three charges against him.
Hamzeh is accused of planning to kill at least 30 people. According to the criminal complaint, Hamzeh engaged in extensive conversations with two confidential sources, and those conversations, which were in Arabic, were monitored, recorded, and translated by the FBI beginning in October 2015.
During those recorded conversations, Hamzeh explained that he wanted to commit a domestic act of violence and, in January, he settled on a Masonic temple in Milwaukee as his target.
Samy Mohammed Hamzeh
The complaint accuses Hamzeh of visiting a shooting range with two other people, and then touring a Masonic temple in Milwaukee, before purchasing machine guns and silencers from undercover FBI agents.
Hamzeh was arrested on January 25th.
Hamzeh is accused of saying: “Thirty is excellent. If I got out, after killing thirty people, I will be happy 100%. . . . 100% happy, because these 30 will terrify the world.”
Hamzeh allegedly said the mass shooting would be in defense of Islam -- that "when we go into a room, we will be killing everyone. That's it. This is our duty."
Hamzeh's parents watched in the federal courtroom Tuesday as Hamzeh heard the charges against him. His mother was weeping throughout the hearing. She declined to comment when the hearing was over.
Humphrey Scottish Rite Temple
While Hamzeh professed his innocence during his first court appearance, he only answered "yes, sir" to the judge's questions on Tuesday.
Hamzeh was initially being held in the Waukesha County Jail after he was arrested on January 25th. Hamzeh was later moved to the Kenosha County Jail, which contracts with the government for jail space for federal inmates.
No trial date has been set for Hamzeh as the defense indicated it will need time to review the case and translate the hundreds of hours of conversation.
There will be a status conference to get an update on that process on March 29th.
Sketch by Jeff Darrow