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Las Vegas synagogue suspect plotted McDonald’s attack, judge says

Updated August 16, 2019 - 12:49 pm

A Las Vegas man accused of plotting to attack a local synagogue also had sketched out plans to target a McDonald’s restaurant, according to a new court document.

“The defendant talked about the attack as a suicide mission,” U.S. Magistrate Judge Nancy Koppe wrote in a detention order for Conor Climo.

The order, made public this week, outlines the judge’s reasons for keeping Climo, 23, in federal custody.

“The Court finds that the defendant is not just talking about what he believes and intends to do, but rather is planning, and has engaged in actions,” Koppe wrote.

She cited detailed sketches and plans that FBI agents found in his bedroom as evidence that he poses a danger to the community.

Climo, who worked as a security guard, was charged Aug. 9 in connection with bomb-making materials found in the bedroom, located in the northwest valley home where he lived with his mother.

A criminal complaint accuses him of plotting to attack a local Anti-Defamation League office and a Fremont Street bar. He believed the bar catered to the LGBTQ community, according to the complaint.

“The defendant freely described his White Supremacist ideology,” Koppe wrote in her order.

The order describes Climo as a member of Feuerkrieg Division, a splinter group of Atomwaffen Division. The Southern Poverty Law Center describes Atomwaffen as a terroristic neo-Nazi group. The two groups share the same beliefs.

According to the complaint, Climo told agents he was designing a bomb to assist in a “race war” on behalf of Feuerkrieg, but said he ultimately left the nationalist group because he “became bored with the group and their inaction” and “wanted to do more against the groups he hates.”

The sketches and journals found in Climo’s bedroom included a drawing of the unnamed bar alongside attack plans, the order states. Plans to attack a synagogue near his house were more specific.

“The defendant spoke of wanting to light an incendiary device and having others join him to shoot people as they came out of the synagogue,” according to Koppe’s order.

The judge noted that Climo has an “extremely shaky relationship” with his mother — one that an aunt described as “awful,” which may affect his ability to come to court.

Climo’s mother and other relatives could not be reached Friday.

According to Peter Simi, an associate professor at Chapman University who studies extremist groups and violence, it can be difficult to prosecute cases in which someone appears to be planning an attack. Ambiguity in those plans and entrapment from law enforcement can be factors.

But Climo is accused in this case of directly discussing his plans with an undercover FBI agent and confidential informant, among others, according to the complaint.

“Ideally, this is what we want,” Simi said. “We don’t want to wait until after the attack.”

Just a week before Climo was charged, a white supremacist’s attack targeting Mexicans in El Paso, Texas, left 22 people dead.

In 2016, Climo appeared in a local news segment wearing a tactical vest and carrying an AR-15 style rifle with four 30-round magazines while “patrolling” his northwest valley neighborhood. He told a reporter he was forming his own neighborhood watch, but in an updated segment, Climo called off the watch after community objections.

Climo’s lawyer declined to comment Friday. The defendant is expected in court next week.

Contact Rachel Crosby at rcrosby@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3801. Follow @rachelacrosby on Twitter.

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