The Texas Shooter Reportedly Wore A Patch Popular With Far-Right Groups

The patch advertised a longtime catchphrase popular with the Proud Boys and neo-Nazis.

With four letters, the alleged shooter in the Allen, Texas, mass killing may have attempted to advertise his far-right political ideology during the attack.

The suspect reportedly wore a patch reading “RWDS” — or “Right Wing Death Squad” — a longtime catchphrase of the right’s fascist wing.

The phrase is a favorite of members of the Proud Boys, the right-wing street gang whose leadership was convicted last week of seditious conspiracy for their actions during the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack. Several members of the group wore “RWDS” patches on that day, a New Yorker article from the time noted.

The Proud Boys chairman, Enrique Tarrio, is one those convicted leaders. A website called, where he and other Proud Boys sold merchandise, included listings for vinyl decals and patches with the text “RWDS.”

On Monday, The New York Times and Bellingcat researcher Aric Toler tracked down the online footprint that they reported belonged to the suspect, which included numerous references to neo-Nazi beliefs. Toler published a photo from the suspect’s social media profile showing a “RWDS” patch on a tactical vest.

The phrase is so common among extremist groups that, upon news of the Texas shooting, a slew of reporters and scholars posted photos of their encounters with it:

HuffPost previously reported that John Donnelly, a former Woburn, Massachusetts, police officer and white supremacist, bragged online about wearing a shirt from the apparel company “Right Wing Death Squad” to the gym. The shirt contained another popular far-right meme: the phrase “Pinochet did nothing wrong,” a reference to the murderous Chilean dictator with a penchant for killing leftists.

“Got some looks,” Donnelly wrote. Using a derogatory slur, Donnelly said he believed Jews “win” if “you’re not wearing offensive clothing to the gym.”

That reference to Pinochet is key in understanding the “Right Wing Death Squad” phrase, and in particular, U.S. support for the extrajudicial killings of left-wing political figures and others who are simply associated with the left by their killers.

As noted in a 2021 paper published by West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center, the “Right Wing Death Squad” phrase “is a meme allusion to incidents of extrajudicial executions of political opponents by the Chilean fascist regime of Augusto Pinochet. Dissidents, particularly leftists, socialists, and supporters of the previous government, were dropped to their death from helicopters by Pinochet’s regime. Today, the reference often features an image of a helicopter and is often accompanied by slogans such as ‘Right Wing Death Squad,’ ‘Free Helicopter Rides,’ and other iterations.”

And as the photographer Jeff Schwilk told The Intercept in a report on the far-right’s interest in Pinochet, “Pinochet specifically hearkens to the heyday of U.S.-backed death squads in the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s, from the Phoenix Program in Vietnam to Suharto in Indonesia to the Contras in Nicaragua. It is a direct threat of the intention of deadly mass violence and future death squads targeting the left in the United States and anyone else deemed an enemy. It reveals the true nature of this ideology.”

A Decade-Old Right-Wing Meme

The phrase has a long history in the Trump era of American politics.

On the night he won the 2016 New York Republican presidential primary, Donald Trump retweeted well wishes from a white supremacist account that described itself with the “RWDS” moniker, The American Prospect noted at the time.

There were numerous references to the phrase the following year at the deadly “Unite the Right” white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Photographers captured “RWDS” written and spray-painted on shields wielded by white nationalists.

After the rally, Facebook claimed that it had banned a group called “Right Wing Death Squad,” among others, from its platform. However, three years later, the Tech Transparency Project reported that the group still had at least three pages on the website that were created prior to the 2017 ban.

In 2019, authorities were investigating Michael V. Zaremski, a New Jersey EMT accused of terrorizing his ex-girlfriend, when they discovered that Zaremski had stockpiled weapons and far-right literature, and had spoken about committing a mass shooting at a hospital. Prosecutors alleged that Zaremski had made videos re-creating the mass shooting of Muslim worshippers in Christchurch, New Zealand ― and that he had a “Right Wing Death Squad” patch on his EMT vest.

That same year, the “Fashwave” band “OBNX” released the song “Right Wing Death Squad,” part of the album “R.W.D.S.” ― which is still available on major platforms like Apple Music. According to public Spotify figures, the song has more than 1.1 million “plays.”

In 2020, reporters noted Proud Boys wearing the patches during a pro-gun rally outside the Virginia State Capitol. One Proud Boy at that event appeared unwilling to explain what the initialism “RWDS” stood for. “You can look it up,” he told an inquiring journalist.

Later that year, a man standing with a group of Proud Boys in Washington, D.C., was photographed wearing a shirt with the text “6MWE” on the chest ― or “6 Million Wasn’t Enough,” a reference to the number of Jews killed in the Holocaust ― and “RWDS” on the sleeve.

And in 2021, federal investigators probed a U.S. Marine and others who were part of a Facebook chat group called “Right Wing Death Squad.” The group members, one of whom was allegedly linked to the neo-Nazi Atomwaffen Division, discussed killing Democratic Party employees, minorities and drug users with explosives and guns, The Daily Beast reported.

The alleged Allen, Texas, shooter’s motives are still unknown.

An FBI bulletin on the suspect said a review of his social media accounts revealed “hundreds of postings and images to include writings with racially or ethnically motivated violent extremist rhetoric, including neo-Nazi materials and material espousing the supremacy of the white race,” Rolling Stone reported.

And multiple reports noting his “RWDS” patch ― albeit sourced to unnamed law enforcement officials ― offer more context on the suspect’s politics.

But authorities aren’t discussing publicly what they’ve found. Local and state investigative agencies did not respond to HuffPost’s questions, and an FBI Dallas Field Office public affairs officer declined to comment.

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