Man charged with making terroristic threats at Las Vegas church

Updated March 8, 2018 - 10:19 am

Prosecutors say a man who idolized the Route 91 Harvest festival gunman told members of a Las Vegas church last month that he was planning “something big.”

The man, 23-year-old Calin Hodges, was indicted Wednesday on a terrorism charge. But Hodges’ lawyer, Malcolm LaVergne, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that his client needs mental health treatment. LaVergne also said the statement was made after Hodges was approached by at least one church elder at Mountaintop Faith Ministries for “spiritual healing” during an evening Bible study.

“This young man was talking to clergymen, trying to heal his soul, and was expressing thoughts in his heart, not threats — thoughts,” said LaVergne, who also represents O.J. Simpson. “He’s basically saying, ‘I need help. Can I get some help?’”

The lawyer said Hodges, known by friends and family as “Cal,” had been to the church multiple times before the statements were made.

“He was there in a service, minding his own business,” LaVergne said. “He’s not in the church pews, shouting this out to church members. He did not interrupt the church service.”

Investigators found no weapons in Hodges’ possession, and he has no criminal record, according to prosecutors and LaVergne.

“It’s beyond complicated,” the defense lawyer said. “There’s no easy answers here at all.”

But authorities described the Feb. 21 church encounter differently.

According to the indictment, at least 40 people were at the church service when Hodges proclaimed he would become “the greatest mass shooter in history,” referencing Mandalay Bay gunman Stephen Paddock, who killed 58 people and injured hundreds more before killing himself on Oct. 1.

“Mr. Hodges is a danger to the community,” Deputy District Attorney Michael Dickerson said.

The prosecutor, who described Hodges as “transient,” agreed the defendant struggled with mental health problems.

Hodges faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted. He was charged with one felony count of making threats or conveying false information concerning acts of terrorism.

Two judges have ordered that Hodges be held on $15,000 bail and confined to a mental health facility, where he will undergo treatment while he awaits trial.

Dickerson said Hodges boasted he would wear a GoPro camera during his act of violence.

Inside Hodges’ vehicle authorities discovered a diary, which stated that “Stephen Paddock had stolen his idea on 1 October” and that he admired the Columbine High School shooters, Dickerson said. Since 2016, Hodges has been the “subject of multiple suspicious activity reports” and posted threats on Instagram, the prosecutor said.

In May, Hodges, an amateur adult film actor with an explicitly pornographic Twitter account, made homicidal and suicidal threats after he was fired as a Lyft driver, according to Dickerson, and the company later obtained a protective order against him.

After the Mandalay Bay massacre, the prosecutor said, Hodges posted on social media: “#I will score more than 58.”

Contact David Ferrara at dferrara@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-1039. Follow @randompoker on Twitter.

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