Right-wing extremists plotted to terrorize Las Vegas protests, prosecutors say - Task & Purpose

Army reservist, former airman and sailor allegedly plotted to terrorize Las Vegas protests

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Three right-wing extremists from Southern Nevada wanted to take advantage of the anger over George Floyd’s death in Minnesota and planned on inciting a riot.

But FBI SWAT took them into custody Saturday about 2 miles from the downtown Las Vegas protest site before they could make their way in with Molotov cocktails and weapons, according to federal authorities.

Stephen “Kiwi” Parshall, 35, Andrew Lyman, 23, and William Loomis, 40, were charged Tuesday with one count each of conspiracy to damage and destroy by fire and explosive, possession of unregistered firearms (and/or) a destructive device, according to the office of the U.S. attorney for the district of Nevada.

They were being held on $1 million bond each in the Clark County jail Wednesday, according to court records.

Lyman is an active U.S. Army reservist, Loomis was formerly enlisted with the U.S. Air Force, and Parshall with the U.S. Navy, according to the complaint.

Parshall and Lyman met on a “Boogaloo” Facebook group when the state was ordered closed because of the coronavirus pandemic. The “Boogaloo” movement, in which members are often known as the “Boogaloo bois,” advocates for the destruction of civilization through violent acts.

A confidential informant met Lyman and Parshall at an early April rally in Las Vegas calling for the reopening of the state’s economy, the federal complaint said. The men were carrying firearms during the rally, and Lyman insisted the group “was not for joking around and that it was for people who wanted to violently overthrow the United States government,” according to the complaint.

They wanted to achieve destruction through chaos and confusion, and spoke about how perhaps the May 16 Reopen Nevada rally in downtown would be a good opportunity, the complaint said. But Lyman couldn’t figure out how to sync some fireworks with a timer and canceled the plan, according to the complaint.

Parshall had bought smoke bombs he wanted to use, but since they were the only ones dressed in combat garb, they would stand out to police. He walked by a government building and left a bag behind that police found, which contained spent shotgun shells and empty gun magazines.

On May 23, Loomis and Parshall went to Lake Mead to scout a building they would try to destroy. Ultimately, they didn’t take action.

When Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police occurred last week, prompting an eruption of U.S.-wide protests, Lyman said it was “time” to take action. They spoke about bombing one of NV Energy’s buildings to create “civil unrest and riots throughout Las Vegas,” and momentum to stir confusion and anger, the complaint said.

That plan was called off, too. Instead, in their battle garb, they attended the Black Lives Matter on the Strip on Friday.

“Violent instigators have hijacked peaceful protests and demonstrations across the country, including Nevada, exploiting the real and legitimate outrage over Mr. Floyd’s death for their own radical agendas,” said Nicholas Trutanich, U.S. Attorney for the district of Nevada, in a news release. “Law enforcement is focused on keeping violence and destruction from interfering with free public expression and threatening lives.”

There, Lyman taunted police by yelling in their faces, the complaint said. Meanwhile, Parshall would tell protesters that “peace” was not going to get them anywhere, that they needed to be violent.

Parshall was incensed that there was no violence that day, although Metro Police made dozens of arrests and a pair of officers were injured.

When they attended the protest downtown on Saturday, they were arrested by the FBI, who found materials to make Molotov cocktails, including bottles of gasoline and red mechanic towels, hair spray, “myriad” fireworks and firearms, the complaint said.

If police used tear gas to disperse the crowd, they would throw the gas canisters back, along with the glass bottles of gasoline, causing the officers to catch fire, the complaint said. The protest did get increasingly angry, and police did disperse the crowd using tear gas, but the suspects were in custody by then.

The investigation was a collaboration between local and federal authorities as part of an FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force.

Metro Capt. Chris Tomaino said that the agency “worked together daily in the Joint Terrorism Task Force with the FBI, U.S. Attorney’s Office, and Clark County District Attorney’s Office in this investigation that helped protect Southern Nevada’s citizens and officers from individuals looking to harm citizens for their own political ends.”

“This quick and decisive action by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force underscores the exceptional partnership and professionalism of our diverse membership,” said Nevada’s FBI Special Agent in Charge Aaron Rouse in the release. “Federal, state, and local agencies committed to stopping acts of terrorism before they can occur. Citizens of Nevada can take comfort that the law enforcement partnerships in this state continue to work together every day to protect them no matter the circumstances.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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