Police in Ohio this weekend arrested a 20-year-old self-described white nationalist who threatened to attack a local Jewish Community Center.
James Reardon Jr. posted a video on Instagram earlier this month in which he was seen shooting a semi-automatic rifle, with screams and sirens in the background, WYTV first reported. (The caption to the video read, “Police identified the Youngstown Jewish Family Community shooter as local white nationalist Seamus O’Rearedon.”)
New Middletown Police Chief Vincent D’Egidio said that the post, as well as Reardon’s other social media activity which was allegedly filled with racist slurs and comments, kicked off a “very rapidly evolving” investigation.
“This is a person that has declared himself as a white nationalist,” D’Egidio said. “With the hate crimes and everything else going on, we want to make sure we do our part to make sure this person was taken off the streets very quickly.”
Police and the FBI raided Reardon’s house on Friday where they recovered several weapons, including at least two AR-15s, as well as ammunition, a gas mask, and body armor. He has been charged with harassment and aggravated menacing and was held on $250,000 bond. His court appearance was scheduled for Monday morning.
Reardon was just one of three young men arrested in the last week for plotting to launch separate mass attacks.
On Friday, police in Florida arrested 25-year-old Tristan Scott Wix, after he told his former girlfriend that he planned to open fire on a “large crowd.” The day beforehand, police and federal agents in Connecticut arrested 22-year-old Brandon Wagshol for attempting to import high-capacity rifle magazines into the state.
Like Reardon, Wagshol’s social media was filled with racist and homophobic rhetoric.
And earlier this month, another white supremacist was arrested in Florida for plotting to attack a Walmart in the days for following the far-right mass shooting in El Paso, Texas.
While the precise motivations for each of these would-be attackers differs, the uptick in threats after the El Paso mass shooting earlier this month shows that, as ThinkProgress has previously reported, the motivations and tactical advice of previous mass shooters who have publicly announced their intentions online often help to inspire others and accelerate the rate of attacks.
This memeticization of far-right attacks and attackers isn’t confined to the United States. Earlier in August, a 21-year-old Norwegian man posted online his intent to attack a mosque before opening fire on the Al-Noor Islamic Center near Oslo. The attack was stopped after a 65-year-old retired Pakistani air force officer tackled the shooter, preventing any serious injuries.
The Oslo shooter had allegedly cited white nationalist terrorist Anders Behring Breivik as his inspiration for the attack, according to police.
The far-right attack in El Paso earlier this month — in which the shooter allegedly targeted Mexicans and complained of an “invasion” of immigrants — has led to a flurry of calls, including from some conservative outlets, for the federal government to step up the fight against white nationalism. President Donald Trump, however, has remained focused on the so-called threat from anti-fascist demonstrators and other counter-protest groups.
Ahead of a far-right rally in Portland over the weekend, for instance, Trump paid no mind to the white nationalist groups descending on the city, instead focusing on antifa.
“Major consideration is being given to naming ANTIFA an ‘ORGANIZATION OF TERROR,'” he tweeted. “Portland is being watched very closely.” It was the second time he threatened to target anti-fascist protesters and not the white supremacists they oppose.
Counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway also tried to equate white nationalist domestic terrorists with antifa during an interview on Fox & Friends Monday morning.
“FBI director Chris Wray made very clear that their arrests based on domestic terrorism are up now. [This] includes white supremacy, also includes antifa, [and] it can also include anti-semitism,” she said.
“If you roll the tape, you see what [Antifa] are doing,” she added. “They’re not just taunting… they’re physically violent. They’re hurting people.”