Grand jury indicts Army reservist, Navy vet and Air Force vet on terror charges over Las Vegas protest plot
By RICARDO TORRES-CORTEZ | The Las Vegas Sun | Published: June 18, 2020
LAS VEGAS (Tribune News Service) — Three self-proclaimed “boogaloo” members accused of conspiring to exploit a George Floyd protest in Las Vegas for mayhem have been formally charged by a federal grand jury. If convicted, they each face up to 30 years in prison and $500,000 in fines.
Stephen “Kiwi” Parshall, 35, Andrew Lyman, 23, and William Loomis, 40, were indicted on counts of conspiracy to damage and destroy by fire and explosive and possession of unregistered firearms, the office of the U.S. attorney for the district of Nevada announced Wednesday.
Chief District Judge Linda Bell set a $1 million bail for the three men and “high-level electronic monitoring” if they post bail. They’re due in court again July 16.
Parshall’s lawyer Robert Draskovich called the evidence “insufficient” and said his client “is looking forward to having his day in court.”
Loomis’ lawyer Richard Wright declined to comment. A message seeking comment from Lynam’s lawyer in the county case, Ryan Helmick, was not immediately returned. His lawyer in federal court, Sylvia Irvin, argued earlier this week that investigators relied heavily on a confidential informant whose trustworthiness is unknown in order to make the allegations.
The decentralized extremist right-wing "boogaloo" movement yearns to spark a second civil war in the U.S.
On Wednesday, federal authorities in California charged two men, including an Air Force sergeant, with murder in the slaying of a Bay Area federal security officer guarding a courthouse during a Floyd demonstration.
Staff Sgt. Steven Carrillo and Robert Alvin Justus Jr. were separately charged with murder and attempted murder counts in the shooting of two officers who were trying to take Carrillo into custody, the New York Times reported.
Separately, on Thursday, a federal grand jury in Texas indicted another enthusiast of the Boogaloo movement, Aaron Swenson, who was arrested in April as he wore a ballistic vest and had two loaded guns and a shotgun in his car, according to the Associated Press. Authorities allege he’d taken to a stream on Facebook to threaten to kill a cop.
The Las Vegas suspects, who have ties to the U.S. military, were taken into custody a few miles from a Floyd protest on May 30. Demonstrators across the U.S. hit the streets in daily protests since Floyd was killed when a Minneapolis police officer dug his knee into Floyd’s neck during an arrest last month. Anger about racism and police brutality simmering, some protests have gone from peaceful, to heated, to rioting — ideal conditions for groups with Boogaloo ideology to sow discord.
The suspects first met on Facebook and then in person following the COVID-19-related lockdowns, according to court documents. They went to “reopen Nevada” protests and then on hikes, which would serve for recruitment. They seemingly conducted background checks on an unknown number of potential recruits.
They spoke about firebombing a post at Lake Mead National Recreation Area and a utilities facility in Las Vegas, documents show. But then the video of Floyd under an officer’s knee as he pleaded for his life hit the airwaves.
They didn’t know they’d been infiltrated by the FBI.
The suspects then changed strategy. In a Floyd-inspired protest, Lyman taunted police and Parshall tried to spark anger in the crowd by telling protesters that “peace” wasn’t a winning formula, documents show.
The following day, the three were arrested about 2 miles from a protest in downtown Las Vegas. They were caught with firearms and materials to make Molotov cocktails, which they hoped to launch at officers if the protest turned unruly, authorities allege.
The Clark County District Attorney’s Office has separately filed local charges against the three suspects, including one count each of assist, solicit or conspire to commit an act of terrorism, provide material support for use in the commission of an act of terrorism, conspiracy to damage or destroy a building by means of explosives, and possession of component of explosive or incendiary device with intent to manufacture explosive incendiary device, officials said.