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Over Course of Three Days, Law Enforcement Thwarts Three Men Threatening to Commit Mass Shootings

Authorities in Ohio, Connecticut and Florida arrested three men who expressed interest in mass shootings, including one who targeted a Jewish community center.

Thanks to tips sent to law enforcement, police departments in Connecticut, Florida and Ohio say they were able to stop three men who threatened to commit mass shootings from carrying out those plans last week.

The first of the arrests took place on August 15 in Norwalk, Connecticut, after the FBI’s National Threat Operations Center received a tip that 22-year-old Brandon Wagshol was attempting to purchase large capacity rifle magazines from out of state, according to a statement from the Norwalk police department and the FBI. He was charged with four counts of illegal possession of large capacity magazines after law enforcement searched his residence on August 14.

“Wagshol had a Facebook post that showed his interest in committing a mass shooting,” the statement said.

Officers found several firearms in Wagshol’s residence along with a titanium plate, camouflage shirt, ballistic helmet, tactical gloves and more. The firearms are registered to his father but were accessible to Wagshol, police said. He is being held on $250,000 bond and scheduled to appear in court on Sept. 6.

“As in this case, a tip from a vigilant citizen helped the FBI and the Norwalk Police Department disrupt a potentially dangerous situation,” FBI Special Agent in Charge Brian Turner, who worked with Norwalk police on the case. “We continue to urge the public to please remain alert and to report to law enforcement any suspicious activity that is observed either in person or online.”

Just one day after Wagshol’s arrest, 25-year-old Tristan Wix of Daytona Beach, Florida was arrested for threatening to commit a mass shooting. Authorities received a tip from Wix’s ex-girlfriend about a series of disturbing, suicidal texts he had sent her recently.

In the texts, Wix said he wanted to open fire on a large crowd and “break a world record for longest confirmed kill ever,” according to the sheriff’s office. He told the ex-girlfriend he wanted to die: “I’m not crazy I just wanna die and I wanna have fun doing it, but I’m the most patient person in the world,” Wix wrote. 

Law enforcement found 400 rounds of ammunition and a hunting rifle when they searched Wix’s apartment. Michael Chitwood, the sheriff for Volusia County, told CNN that the suspect has the “profile of a shooter.” Wix was being held without bond as of last weekend.

"He lost his job, he lost his girlfriend, he's depressed, he's got the ammunition and he wants to become known for being the most prolific killer in American history,” Chitwood said. 

Then, on August 17, authorities in Ohio arrested 20-year-old James Reardon for threatening to attack the Jewish Community Center of Youngstown. He was arrested for telecommunications harassment and aggravated menacing after an Instagram account allegedly belonging to him posted a video of a man firing a gun and tagging the Jewish organization.

The caption of the video read: "Police identified the Youngstown Jewish Family Community shooter as local white nationalist Seamus O'Rearedon.” The name is an apparent reference to a Gaelic version of Reardon’s name.

According to law enforcement, the man owned a stockpile of firearms and had a history of white supremacist activity, appearing in a National Geographic documentary about the 2017 Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. In the documentary, Reardon said he identified as a white nationalist.

“I want a homeland for white people, and I think every race should have a homeland for their race," Reardon said in the video, according to CNN.

Andy Lipkin, the executive vice-president of the Youngstown Area Jewish Federation, said in a statement that police acted swiftly and strongly to address the threat. He said the arrest was a “clear example of everything going right.”

“The system worked," Lipkin said. “The positive result here is a clear example of the importance of monitoring social media to identify credible, hate-fueled threats before they are acted on.”

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