Investigators concluded that the surveillance video of 28-year-old Nathan Allen clutching a semi-automatic pistol on a Winthrop, Massachusetts, street on Saturday afternoon is an image of murderous racism in action.
They noted that Allen walked gun in hand past several white people without firing before he shot to death a Black Air Force veteran and then a Black retired Massachusetts state trooper.
And the investigators later discovered white supremacist and antisemitic rantings in Allen’s handwriting, complete with swastikas.
But instead of the usual hate and bigotry on Allen’s Facebook page, they found a post calling on others to join him in donating to the House Rabbit Network in support of pet bunnies.
And then there was a tender post on June 22, just four days before he turned murderous.
“Happy birthday to my beautiful wife Audrey Allen.”
With that he posted a photo from their Sept. 4, 2020, wedding, which was held in a courtyard at Oakdale Rehabilitation and Skilled Nursing Center in West Boylston, Massachusetts. A Boston Globe article written shortly before the ceremony noted that the couple had chosen the venue because Audrey’s beloved 92-year-old grandfather was a resident.
“This is a love story,” the Globe declared.
The couple told their own story online with Audrey Mazzola and Nathan Allen’s Wedding Website.
“A tale as old as time.
It all started in the most romantic setting imaginable: The Birch Grille at UMassDartmouth. Seven years, three apartments, and two rabbits later, Audrey and Nathan decided to tie the knot amidst the backdrop of a global emergency.
We first met: Birch Grille at UMass Dartmouth. October, 2011.
Our first date: McDonald’s in New Bedford. March, 2013.
Our first furbaby: Sigmund arrived in a cucumber crate August 9th, 2014, weighing half a pound.
Our first big trip: Croatia, Italy, Austria. September 2016
Our first apartment: A 9' x 9' room on Allston Street in Allston, MA, August 2017.
Our first home: A condo in Winthrop overlooking the Belle Isle Marsh. October, 2019.
Proposal: February 29th, 2020.
As reported in the Globe, Audrey Mazzola returned from a Bernie Sanders rally on Boston Common on Feb. 29 last year to find the apartment she shared with Allen filled with lighted candles. Their pet rabbit, Sigmund, had a handwritten note tied to his neck.
“Will you marry my dad?”
Allen had begged off joining her at the rally, saying he had schoolwork. He had in fact gone to get her parents’ permission to marry her. They could not have had an inkling of what was to come. And it is hard for anyone who sees a photo of the embrace from the wedding that in 10 months he would suddenly become a figure of homicidal bigotry. The wedding invitation predicted a very different event in the wake of the pandemic.
“Due to COVID-19 ruining everything, our in-person guest list is limited to the moms, the dads, the grandparents, and the in-state siblings. When the craziness is all over, we’ll have a big party so we can celebrate with all our beloved friends and family.”
Whatever made Allen a racist murderer could not have just materialized in the way of COVID-19. But his past as can be easily accessed online gives no hint of the trouble to come. He was on the honor roll at Wareham High School in 2010 and played in the all-Cape Jazz Band. He went on to the honors program at the University of Massachusetts in Dartmouth, where he met Audrey. She argued in a Facebook post that the school should not be blamed for having one of the Boston Marathon bombers among its alumni.
Allen majored in biology. The guy who police say would later subscribe in his writings to the insane notion that white people are superior because they are “apex predators” spent long hours in the university’s Kavanagh Laboratory.
“Worked in an evolutionary development laboratory to perform research pertaining to my honor’s thesis,” he later wrote in his résumé. “Performed analysis on the chondrogenic condensation sequence and the bone ossification sequence in the chicken embryo... Received the University of Massachusetts Undergraduate Research Award in 2013.”
He graduated cum laude in 2014 and took a variety of added science classes at community colleges with an apparent aim of switching from research to health care. He also worked for a time as a paraprofessional at a middle school.
“Helped maintain a safe learning environment,” he wrote.
He also served as a caregiver at a home for seniors.
“Provided companionship and conversation,” he noted. “Created a safe and comfortable environment for clients.”
In 2017, he gained admission to the MGH Institute of Health Professions. He joined Boston Boxing, and when he turned 28 in August he celebrated his birthday in a way that would make the evil soon to come all the more unfathomable.
“I would like to send out a very special thank you to another great Boston Boxing member, Nathan Allen,” the program director, Ed LaVache, said in an Aug. 18 Facebook post. “His birthday was last week and he and his fiancee asked their friends and family to make donations to the Boston Boxing free youth program Fit Students for Life. They raised over $800 all donated back into our summer program.”
LaVache added, “Thank you as always to the generosity of our members and supporters who allow us to continue these great youth programs even in the craziness of covid. Thank you Nathan and Audrey Mazzola.”
Photos online show that the program includes children of color.
The following month, the tale as old as time culminated with the wedding at the grandfather’s nursing home.
“MASKS REQUIRED,” read the invitation to the few close relatives and friends the restrictions allowed. “A socially distant ceremony in the courtyard.”
On Jan. 8 of this year, Allen graduated from MGH. He had by then become a licensed physical therapist. His profile picture shows him walking in sunshine in a white shirt and business suit, the jacket slung over one shoulder.
“Lookin dapper,” a friend commented.
Then on June 22, he posted the happy birthday wish to his wife, along with the photo of the wedding embrace. He also posted a picture of him and his wife on a motorcycle, both sensibly wearing a helmet.
Somewhere in all that, Allen legally obtained a handgun. He had it with him four days later, when this man with no criminal record stole a box truck belonging to the Rapid Flow, Inc. sewer and drain clearing company. He collided with another vehicle and then drove into a residence. Surveillance video shows he was holding a gun when he strode from the scene.
Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins later said that Allen encountered a number of white people but did not begin shooting until he chanced upon a Black Air Force veteran, 60-year-old Staff Sgt. Ramona Cooper. He shot her three times in the back and she fell mortally wounded.
Allen then encountered a retired Massachusetts State Police trooper, 53-year-old David Green. Allen shot Green four times in the head and three times in the neck and torso. Green died where he fell.
Allen himself was subsequently killed, reportedly after firing upon responding police. Authorities later discovered writings in Allen’s hand that Rollins described as “about the superiority of the white race.”
“There is a growing national, and global, problem with extremism and white supremacy,” Rollins added. “The FBI believes the most serious domestic violent extremist threat comes from ‘racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists, specifically those who advocated for the superiority of the white race.”
But apparently few, if any, others saw Allen as a threat until he began shooting.
“This shooter was married and employed. He had a Ph.D. and no criminal history,” Rollins further noted. “To all external sources he likely appeared unassuming.”
Rollins pledged to continue investigating what exactly happened. She is hopefully getting full cooperation from the numerous relatives, friends, and classmates who did not respond to requests for insight from The Daily Beast. She said she would share the result with the families of the victims, who had spent their lives protecting us.
“They deserve answers about their loved ones’ deaths,” she said.
And this is one shooter in particular we all should study because his violent race hatred seemed to come from nowhere. That means it must have been deep in him, beneath all his layers of apparent decency.
How many others are like him?
Maybe people should study this stuff in school.
—With reporting by William Bredderman