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UNT gun club co-founder released on bond, faces seizure of weapons and potential disbarment

UNT gun club co-founder released on bond, faces seizure of weapons and potential disbarment

UNT gun club co-founder released on bond, faces seizure of weapons and potential disbarment
January 24
01:04 2019

Jason Van Dyke, former lawyer for alleged hate group the Proud Boys and ousted coach for the UNT gun club, the Texas Marksmen, was arrested earlier this month and later released from the Denton County Jail on bail last Tuesday. However, Van Dyke made a series of threats against several individuals, prompting authorities to administer extra stipulations to his release.

Additionally, members of the Texas Marksmen leadership including Van Dyke, former Marksmen president Jason Armitage and the group’s faculty adviser all resigned within a week of each other.

Van Dyke’s recent arrest and release 

Van Dyke turned himself in to authorities the week before his release in response to a warrant made because the lawyer did not show up to a court hearing in December. The hearing was planned to discuss death threats Van Dyke made to Tom Retzlaff, a San Antonio man whom Van Dyke sued for $100 million in 2018.

Van Dyke’s $50,000 bail agreement included stipulations to seize his firearms and restricts him from traveling outside Denton County. Authorities will monitor the lawyer through electronic GPS tracking.

Van Dyke’s recent run-ins with the law began last September, when Van Dyke called the Oak Point police department to report a burglary at his Crossroads home. Officers charged Van Dyke with making a false report after they noticed differing testimonies between the lawyer and his roommate concerning the burglary and booked him into Denton County Jail. He was released on bail hours later.

When the September incident made it to courts months later in December, Retzlaff informed authorities of violent death threats Van Dyke made while out on bail, triggering the hearing Van Dyke did not attend. Van Dyke also repeatedly made threats over email and social media toward other individuals, including Texas State Bar prosecutor Kristin Brady and Deborah Armintor, a Denton City Councilwoman and UNT associate English professor, who documented some of the threats in a court affidavit.

Van Dyke formerly served as the sole legal representation of the Proud Boys, a men’s organization accused of promoting racist and sexist ideals that the Southern Poverty Law Center have designated as an extremist group. Under Van Dyke’s guidance in November, the Proud Boys drafted bylaws and appointed new leaders. 

Armintor expressed her concern with Van Dyke’s affiliations over Facebook, urging readers to report his “white supremacist organizing” after the Daily published a story elaborating on his involvement with the Proud Boys’ bylaws. Van Dyke addressed her remarks in his own Facebook posts.

Armintor later speculated in her affidavit that Van Dyke made one post reading “[p]eople will provoke you until they bring out your ugly side, then play victim when you get there” as a clear threat to her, given the content of the image and the violence present in its source material.

An additional Facebook post by Van Dyke included slurs and derogatory language directed at Armintor, as well as a summary of his contributions to UNT students in clubs and with the Theta Chi fraternity, where he used to serve with housing and legal matters.

The Texas Marksmen

Van Dyke co-founded and coached the Texas Marksmen, a UNT gun enthusiast club involved in firearm training classes and sporting events until he resigned in December, shortly after the club’s faculty adviser and before the club president resigned.

The Marksmen continue to operate on campus, hosting gun licensing classes in campus classrooms and on an affiliated gun range, VX Marksmanship. However, the status of the club’s leadership is currently unknown.

Despite claims that the group is non-partisan and open to all students, theatre senior Matt Andrewartha, who tried to join the group in 2016 but decided not to after contacting Van Dyke through the Marksmen’s vetting page, said partisan leanings affected who was allowed to join the group.

Andrewartha, a vocal Bernie Sanders supporter at the time, said Van Dyke revealed his Proud Boys affiliation to him in a Facebook conversation.

“It was clear which way I swung politically,”Andrewartha said. “[Van Dyke] caught on to that real quick. He was skeptical. He said ‘you’ll want to be careful because this is a mostly right-leaning group.’ One of his concerns about my support for Bernie Sanders was that I might be affiliated with Antifa.”

Marketing alumnus Bryce Goodman said he saw Van Dyke’s ties firsthand in a more recent experience after he attended a Texas Marksmen training session last October. Goodman said Van Dyke wore a Proud Boys shirt to the meeting.

Later on, in the shooting portion of the class, Goodman said Van Dyke used part of the training session to herald Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who was accused of sexually assaulting women during his high school and college years.

“When we got to the shooting range and it was time for us to shoot, Kavanaugh just got confirmed,” Goodman said. “So our meet was a celebration of Kavanaugh’s confirmation. ‘A salute to Kavanaugh’ is what [Van Dyke] called it. Most people cheered.”

Van Dyke will face a disbarment hearing on Feb. 22 that could prohibit him from practicing law in Texas.

Featured Image: Jason Van Dyke. Courtesy Denton County Jail. 

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Carter Mize

Carter Mize

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1 Comment

  1. Dee
    Dee February 13, 15:37

    My sister I took a class at UNT, for our CHL, yhat he taught. The only reason we didn’t walk out was because we had paid our money already. He made racist, ignorant comments. I told everyone I knew not to take a class from him. I even left a comment regarding his class and never heard anything back. This does not surprise me at all.

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