In the few weeks since the twin massacres in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas, at least three people have been separately arrested for plotting mass shootings.
Authorities in Connecticut took 22-year-old Brandon Wagshol into custody last Thursday. Wagshol had posted racist and homophobic rhetoric on Facebook, where he’d also reportedly expressed an interest in committing a mass shooting. He was arrested for attempting to import high-capacity rifle magazines.
A day later police in Florida arrested 25-year-old Tristan Scott Wix, who told his girlfriend he wanted to open fire on a “large crowd” and that he wanted “100 kills.” The next day in New Middletown, Ohio, police arrested a self-described white nationalist who had also participated in the Unite the Right rally. James Reardon had amassed an arsenal of weapons and had threatened a local Jewish community center.
But the threats haven’t stopped there. On Monday it was revealed that the same day that Wix was arrested, authorities in Memphis, Tennessee, took 38-year-old truck driver Thomas McVicker into custody for making “credible threats to conduct a mass shooting.” McVicker had allegedly planned to shoot up a church in Tennessee, then turn the gun on himself.
The next day, authorities in Pennington County, South Dakota, arrested a man who was planning to attack local and federal government entities. It was revealed the same day that police in New Jersey arrested 57-year-old Jospeh Rubino for possessing a stockpile of assault weapons, including a grenade launcher.
When they searched his home, authorities also discovered neo-Nazi paraphernalia and a document “containing racist material and purporting to be an instruction manual for owning a slave.”
News of Rubino’s July 24 arrest only became public this week. Police only discovered Rubino’s arsenal after he wrecked his van while driving it, and officers assisting him noticed weapons and ammunition in the rear of the vehicle.
Around the same time that Rubino’s arrest became public, federal authorities announced the arrest of Eric Lin, who allegedly sent a barrage of messages to an unidentified woman in Miami outlining how he wanted the “extermination of all Hispanics.” Lin also posted in July that “I thank God everyday President Donald John Trump is President and that he will launch a Racial War and Crusade.” He has been charged with making threatening communications.
The barrage of threats demonstrates how each mass shooting provides a source of inspiration for additional would-be attackers. This is particularly true of far-right shooters, who sometimes post extremist manifestos that give other radicalized people tactical knowledge and motivation, which accelerate fresh attacks.
Law enforcement, however, is picking up the pace of their response. After the El Paso attack, FBI Director Christopher Wray ordered field offices across the country to conduct further threat assessments in order to help local law enforcement prevent further attacks. The agency said it was worried that the attacks could inspire other would-be shooters to engage in “similar acts of violence.”