SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A man facing 13 criminal charges for allegedly dropping off racist flyers at several homes, a Jewish synagogue, and an elementary school in Carmichael is tied to a skinhead band based out of Santa Cruz, The Update has learned.
Nicholas Wayne Sherman, 33, is closely associated with a skinhead punk band out of Santa Cruz called The Highway Murderers, whose songs and general aesthetic include themes of violence, racism, anti-government leanings, and misogyny.
Songs published by the band, who played their first gig in a warehouse in 2010, include mentions of Nazis and Adolf Hitler, suicide bombings, drug abuse, and burning people alive. An analysis of several Facebook pages affiliated with the band reveals photos of masked men holding assault rifles, band members using hand-signs frequently associated with white supremacy, and several videos pushing unfounded claims that 9/11 was a hoax. Sexualized drawings of nude women are also present on the pages.
Band members, as well as their fans, frequently comment and post stylized versions of “187” – the California penal code section for murder. Some of them even have the number tattooed on their bodies. Other tattoos include spider webs, popular among prisoners, and skulls adorned with Nazi-style helmets.
Several band members have a history of run-ins with the law. Guitarist Cody Joe Rice was arrested in Mendocino County in 2012 after probation agents allegedly interrupted a meth deal involving him and three others. While there, agents say they found an explosive device. Rice was booked on charges of meth possession and resisting arrest.
Another member, Bradley Musich, was found guilty on charges of resisting arrest and vandalism. He was sentenced to 20 days in jail and one year of probation. In 2010, he pleaded no contest to public intoxication charges and spent two months in jail.
Sherman was charged in 2013 with possessing drug paraphernalia and being under the influence of a controlled substance. Both charges were later dismissed, but he currently has an open warrant out of Santa Cruz for allegedly placing an offensive symbol on private property – a charge similar to what he’s accused of doing in Carmichael.
In 2017, Sherman had his full name and personal information leaked on an antifa blog after a show the band was scheduled to perform got canceled. On Facebook, he claimed “antifa scum” was responsible for the falling out and posted a drawing of a van running over protesters, according to now-deleted screenshots viewed by The Update. Sherman may have been involved in booking gigs for the band.
Another screenshot, Sherman’s old Facebook profile picture, showed him wearing a cap adorned with SS bolts – the logo of the brutal paramilitary force that enforced the laws of Nazi Germany. He prominently displayed his middle finger to the camera. Nazi signage and racist language, including the n-word, was featured in several posts made by the other band members.
Sherman is accused of leaving Aryan Nation leaflets on a menorah at the Shalom Le Israel synagogue, the Deterding Elementary School campus, and front porches of several Carmichael homes. The flyers were left in plastic baggies filled with white rice and contained racist and antisemitic messages, adorned with swastikas. He’s since been charged with one felony count of desecrating a religious symbol and 13 misdemeanor counts of terrorism by symbol.
Following his arrest on Wednesday, investigators seized several racist mementos from Sherman’s home, according to pictures released by KTXL Fox 40. The items included racist t-shirts, one of which was adorned with a photo of Hitler and the same logo as a shirt he wore in his Facebook profile picture. Other shirts had phrases like “White Power Black Metal” and “Aryan Nations.”
“Let me be very clear, hate crimes against a member of any group in our community is an assault on all of us and will not be tolerated,” District Attorney Schubert said in a statement on the arrest. “Those who target victims because of their race, ethnicity, religion, nationality, disability, gender or sexual orientation will be prosecuted by specially trained and experienced prosecutors. In addition to prosecuting hate crime offenses, my office works to educate the community on how to protect themselves and encourages them to report suspected hate crimes.”
Sherman is set to be arraigned Monday in Department 62 at the Gordon D. Schaber courthouse downtown. It wasn’t immediately clear whether he had retained an attorney.