A prominent New Hampshire-based member of a white supremacist group that has staged racist and anti-LGBTQ demonstrations throughout New England has died, authorities confirmed Tuesday.
The neo-Nazi group, known as the Nationalist Social Club or NSC-131, began posting Monday on its official Telegram channel about the death of 35-year-old Leo Cullinan, who had lived in Manchester with his wife and children as he faced a series of prosecutions.
The hate group praised Cullinan as “a hero of the White Race” and launched an online fund-raiser that collected about $5,000 within a day.
The news of Cullinan’s death was posted between updates celebrating a demonstration by NSC-131 members outside Teatotaller, a coffee shop in Concord, N.H., where a drag queen story hour event was held Sunday as masked men chanted, performed Nazi salutes, knocked on the shop’s windows, and held racist banners outside.
It’s unclear whether Cullinan participated in the anti-drag demonstration, which concluded less than 24 hours before his death was reported to authorities.
Manchester police confirmed Tuesday that Cullinan had died. An incident log shows officers responded to a death reported Monday morning at an address associated with Cullinan, but authorities did not release details Tuesday about the case.
A spokesperson for Manchester police, Heather Hamel, said Cullinan’s death is not considered suspicious.
Kris Goldsmith, founder of the Task Force Butler Institute, a veterans group that has been tracking the threats posed by far-right extremist groups, described Cullinan as a “particularly violent felon” and as NSC-131′s “top guy” in New Hampshire.
A report compiled by Task Force Butler describes Cullinan as having a “large build, numerous tattoos, and (an) overly aggressive demeanor,” as documented in multiple cases. The report says he’s been one of NSC-131′s main “online propagandists.”
Michael Garrity, a spokesperson for the New Hampshire Department of Justice, said Tuesday that the DOJ had not launched an investigation of its own into Cullinan’s death.
Garrity said NSC-131 has used its social media channels to take credit for Sunday’s demonstration in Concord.
“Anyone who has information about the identities of the participants is encouraged to contact the Concord Police Department or the attorney general’s office,” he said.
Cullinan had been among the defendants in civil litigation that the DOJ filed in January against NSC-131 and the group’s leader, Christopher Hood of Pepperell, Mass. A judge dismissed that case earlier this month, concluding that the NSC-131 members engaged in “reprehensible” but constitutionally protected conduct when they hung a “Keep New England White” banner from a Portsmouth, N.H., overpass last July.
The state has asked the judge to reconsider his ruling, and Garrity said the DOJ will continue pressing forward with the litigation against the other defendants in light of Cullinan’s death.
An attorney defending Cullinan in the civil matter, Patrick Daubert of Daubert Law in Massachusetts, said he does not know additional information about what led to Cullinan’s sudden passing.
Cullinan was also under criminal indictment at the time of his death, according to court records and the prosecutor in the case. Patrick Ives, an assistant county attorney for Hillsborough County, N.H., said Cullinan was indicted in March on charges of assaulting an officer at the Hillsborough County House of Corrections in February.
Cullinan had been jailed on drug possession charges at the time of the alleged assault. He was sentenced in the drug case in March, according to court records. He was released April 24, having completed his sentence, according to Hillsborough County Department of Corrections Major Brian Martineau.
A spokesperson for the New Hampshire Department of Corrections said Tuesday that Cullinan is currently listed as being on probation.