A neo-Nazi with a predilection for patrolling Las Vegas streets with a semi-automatic weapon over his shoulder has now been charged with plotting an attack on a gay club and a synagogue.
The FBI have arrested and charged security guard Conor Climo with planning bombings in Sin City. Authorities say the 23-year-old was "communicating with individuals who identified with a white supremacist extremist organization using the National Socialist Movement to promote their ideology."
"Threats of violence motivated by hate and intended to intimidate or coerce our faith-based and LGBTQ communities have no place in this Country," said Nicholas A. Trutanich, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada in a statement. "Law enforcement in Nevada remains determined to use the full weight of our investigative resources to prevent bias-motivated violence before it happens. I commend our partners who identified the threat and took swift and appropriate action to ensure justice and protect the community."
The Las Vegas Joint Terrorism Task Force first started investigating communications between Climo and the neo-Nazi, white supremacist group Atomwaffen Division. FBI officials say that group has a history of targeting minorities, homosexuals and Jews.
Throughout 2019, Climo engaged in encrypted communications with the groups, the FBI said. Authorities say he frequently used homophobic, anti-Semitic and racial slurs. He specifically discussed attacking a synagogue and a Fremont Street club catering to an LGBTQ clientele. The FBI would not specifically identify either potential target.
"AWD works to recruit like-minded members to the organization, train them in military tactics, hand to hand combat, bomb making, and other techniques in preparation for an 'ultimate and uncompromising victory' in a race war," reads the FBI criminal complaint against Climo, as reported by ABC News.
Two years ago, Climo gave an interview to KTNV Las Vegas after he started his own neighborhood watch effort, patrolling local streets in body armor while brandishing an AR-15 rifle and carrying a blade. In the interview, he said he has briefly served in the Army.
At the time, he talked about external threats to the neighborhood.
"If there is possibly a very determined enemy, we at least have the means to deal with it," he told the network.
Police then said his activities were legal as long as he stayed away from schools and certain government buildings.
That interview was given months after Florida security guard Omar Mateen attacked Pulse, a gay club in Orlando, killing 49 others before police killed him. The FBI also investigated Mateen before the shooting, but in that case tried to groom him an informant.
In the case of Climo, they searched his home and found parts that could be used to make an explosive device. They also found drawings for making a timed bomb and hand-drawn schematics of the area of Las Vegas he planned to attack.
Authorities say at one point he tried to recruit a homeless person to conduct video surveillance of his targets, an effort that was ultimately fruitless.
Climo faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.