State College, Pa. -- The leader of the Aryan Nations announced his resignation Tuesday, one day after he ousted founder Richard Butler from the white supremacist group.
In a statement on the Aryan Nations Web site, Ray Redfeairn said he would leave the organization March 30.
Leadership would then belong to a "High Council,'' consisting of national spokesman August Kreis, Pennsylvania leader Charles Juba and a third person who has not yet been selected.
"This came as a shock to me,'' said Kreis, adding that he had not talked with Redfeairn about his decision.
Redfeairn did not immediately return an e-mail request by The Associated Press for an interview.
Redfeairn and Kreis removed Butler from the group Monday, saying he had damaged the organization's reputation. The decision was supported by the Aryan Nations' state leaders.
Kreis said Butler and a handful of supporters in Idaho refused to recognize the chain of command, issuing their own directives and calling their own meetings.
"We couldn't continue having to deal with what he would say to the press, and then the press would call me and ask if this is true, and I'd have to say no,'' Kreis said.
Butler led the Aryan Nations until last fall, when he turned over leadership to Redfeairn. The decision came a year after a $6.3 million civil rights judgment which forced the group to sell the 20-acre Idaho compound that had served as its headquarters and as Butler's home.
Butler, who turns 84 next month, did not return a message left at the Aryan Nations office in Hayden, Idaho. He told The Spokesman-Review of Spokane, Wash., that he was still the Aryan Nations leader and that Redfeairn and Kreis were "just trying to usurp my position.''
Last week, Butler tried to fire Kreis and Redfeairn, but the two said he lacked the authority to do so.