In just one week after the El Paso terror attack, the FBI received more than 38,000 leads about potential right-wing violence - A 70 percent increase.
In early August, 21-year-old Patrick Crusius stormed a Walmart in El Paso, Texas- a city on the US-Mexico border- and gunned down 21 shoppers, injuring several more.
Only minutes before the slaughter, the alleged gunman’s apparent manifesto emerged online, citing a supposed “Hispanic invasion of Texas”.
The killings marked one of the deadliest attacks on Latinos in the country’s history, and they took place at a time of ongoing mass shootings and soaring hate crimes, up by nine percent in 30 American cities nationwide, according to a new report.
Crusius was arrested and charged with capital murder. But since the deadly mass shooting, authorities have scrambled to prevent a spate of would-be attacks around the nation.
During the week after the El Paso attack and another mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) said it received 38,000 calls about potential incidents on the agency’s tip line. That marked a 70-percent increase from the bureau’s weekly average of tips.
Less than a week after the El Paso mass shooting, police in Las Vegas, Nevada, 23-year-old Connor Climo, an apparent white nationalist planning to bomb and shoot up an LGBTQ bar and a synagogue.
The FBI later said that Climo intended to recruit additional attackers for his plan.
In a subsequent statement, US Attorney for the District of Nevada Nicholas Trutanich said in a statement that “threats of violence motivated by hate and intended to intimidate or coerce our faith-based and LGBTQ communities have no place in this country”.
The FBI later revealed that Climo had been in contact with Atomwaffen Division, a hardline neo-Nazi group that has killed at least five people in recent years.
On August 15, 22-year-old Brandon Wagshol- who reportedly had a history of posting bigoted comments on social media- was arrested in Connecticut for posting on Facebook his desire to carry out a mass shooting- at least 263 of which have been executed so far this year in the US, according to the Gun Violence Archive.
When authorities raided the suspect’s home, they found a swath of weapons, among them a handgun, two rifles, body armour and a large amount of ammunition. He was charged with four counts of illegal possession of high-capacity magazines.
The following day, police in Florida’s Daytona Beach arrested 25-year-old Tristan Scott Wix, who had reportedly harboured a lengthy fascination with mass shootings.
Wix, authorities said, wanted to “break a world record for longest confirmed kill ever”, according to a text message he sent.
David Neiwert, journalist and author of several books on the US far-right, said that law enforcement agencies are “clearly” paying increased attention to the threat.
“They have no choice in the matter because they are faced with the reality of it,” he told TRT World. “Law enforcement is catching on.”
In New Middletown, Ohio, 20-year-old James Reardon—a self-described white nationalist who reportedly attended the deadly August 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia—recently plotted to open fire on a Jewish community centre.
In Reardon’s home last weekend, authorities found weapons, a gas mask, a bulletproof vest and anti-Semitic literature, among other items.
Last Tuesday, federal authorities announced that they tracked down and arrested 35-year-old Eric Lin a week earlier for a plan to carry out racist violence.
Lin allegedly called for the mass murder of all Hispanic people, Muslims and African Americans in Miami, Florida.
Lin, believed to be a neo-Nazi, had allegedly sent a spate of threats referencing German Nazi leader Adolf Hitler to Hispanic women in Miami.
The same day authorities announced Lin’s arrest, law enforcement revealed the arrest of 38-year-old truck driver Thomas McVicker for planning a mass shooting at a Tennessee church.
On Thursday, a disgruntled hotel employee was arrested after allegedly threatening to gun down people at his workplace in Long Beach, California. Rodolfo Montoya, 37, had in his home 38 high-capacity magazines and hundreds of rounds of ammunition, investigators announced.
Later that day, 57-year-old New Jersey resident Joseph Rubino was charged with possessions of firearms by a convicted felon, possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine, and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime.
While sweeping Rubino’s home, authorities had found Nazi Germany paraphernalia and a guide for slave ownership.
‘24-hour hate buffet’
Christian Picciolini, who led a skinhead group in the late 1980s and early 1990s, said he’s increasingly disturbed by authorities’ apparent hesitation “to call white nationalists violent terrorism”.
However, even during the late 1980s and 1990s, Picciolini told TRT World: “But it was a transnational terrorism back then, like it is now- even more so now.”
Since US President Donald Trump came to office in January 2017, hate crimes and white nationalist violence have been on the uptick.
Earlier this month, California State University at Santa Barbara’s Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism (CSHE) released a report documenting a nine-percent uptick in hate crimes across 30 American cities last year.
In a report published late last year, the FBI counted a 17-percent increase in 2017.
Picciolini sees the rise in hate crime as partially attributable to the growth of online far-right extremism.
Unlike the face-to-face recruitment of his time in the white nationalist movement, he said hard-line far-right supporters today “are hanging out online … It’s almost like a 24-hour hate buffet they can tap into whenever they want”.