A Las Vegas security guard plotted attacks on a synagogue and an LGBTQ bar, the FBI says

Posted at 8:23 PM, Aug 10, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-10 22:23:17-04

A Las Vegas security guard who once patrolled his neighborhood with a semi-automatic rifle has been arrested on a federal charge in connection with possessing “destructive devices.” The FBI says he had bomb-making materials and was planning to attack a synagogue and a gay bar.

Conor Climo, 23, also chatted online with white supremacists, quoted Adolf Hitler, and drew a sketch for attacks, according to the criminal complaint filed against him.

Climo was arraigned Friday on allegations he had bomb-making materials, which the FBI-led Joint Terrorism Task Force said it found in his home, the complaint states. The alleged crime is possession of an unregistered firearm.

CNN has reached out to his attorney. His mother declined to comment.

“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 US Attorney Nicholas A. Trutanich for the District of Nevada.

“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 Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division is involved in the prosecution.

The arrest Thursday follows a startling week of mass shootings in three cities across the United States. Federal authorities are investigating two of those — in Gilroy, California, and El Paso, Texas — as domestic terrorism.

Las Vegas was the site of the nation’s deadliest mass shooting in modern US history, when 58 people were killed and more than 500 hurt in October 2017. Also on that dire list are massacres in 2016 at the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando and in 2018 at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh.

Climo faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, the Department of Justice says.

Investigation reveals communications with extremists

In 2016, Climo tried to start an armed civilian neighborhood patrol wearing a full vest of magazines and carrying what CNN affiliate KTNV called “an AR-rifle.” Climo told the station his effort was a response to crime in the area.

The criminal complaint references that episode and says Climo was “carrying an AR-15 style assault rifle, four magazines each containing 30 rounds of ammunition, and wearing a tactical vest.”

He was not arrested or charged in that incident.

A task force of local, state and federal agencies began investigating Climo in April based on his electronic communications with people who identified with a white extremist group, the criminal complaint says.

The group has the goal of “challenging the established laws, social order, and government via terrorism and other violent acts,” according to the complaint. It targets the federal government, “minorities, homosexuals, and Jews,” the complaint says. Members primarily communicate via encrypted chat applications that let users transmit text messages and files on computer, tablet or cell phone.

Climo discussed with an FBI informant making Molotov cocktails and improvised explosive devices and attacking an Las Vegas synagogue “close to his home,” the complaint says.

It also states that he discussed online with an FBI undercover agent conducting surveillance on a bar he saw as serving the LGBTQ community, which the complaint describes only as being downtown near Fremont Street. Climo tried to recruit a homeless man’s assistance in the surveillance of both places, the complaint says.

Climo allegedly told the undercover agent he intended to “further the cause,” which the agent came to believe referred to a “desire to engage in anti-Semitic and Anti-homosexual violent extremism,” according to the complaint.

Investigators also said they found a 2017 posting from Climo on Quora, a general-interest, question-and-answer website, on which he quoted Hitler: “Your most precious possession on this earth is your people!”

In searching Climo’s home Thursday with a warrant, authorities said, they found a notebook with hand-drawn potential attack schematics, as well as drawings of timed explosive devices.