Federal prosecutors in Las Vegas have charged three men alleged to be members of the far-right extremist "Boogaloo" movement with multiple state and federal violations of conspiracy to cause destruction during protests in Las Vegas, as well as possession of Molotov cocktails.
Charging documents say Stephen T. Parshall, aka "Kiwi," 35; Andrew Lynam, 23; and William L. Loomis, 40, all of Las Vegas, were arrested Saturday on a state criminal complaint alleging conspiracy to commit an act of terrorism, material support for committing an act of terrorism and multiple explosives violations. The plot was foiled with help from an informant, authorities said.
The "Boogaloo" movement, which federal prosecutors describe as a "term used by extremists to signify a coming civil war and/or collapse of society," has been linked to some online posts about protests over the death of George Floyd.
Full coverage of George Floyd's death and protests around the country
NBC News reported last weekend that members of the "Boogaloo" movement were seen at protests in states including Minnesota and Texas, as well as in Philadelphia.
The movement, which says it wants a second civil war organized around the word "boogaloo," includes groups on mainstream internet platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Reddit, as well as fringe websites including 4chan, according to a report released Tuesday night by the Network Contagion Research Institute, an independent nonprofit organization of scientists and engineers that tracks and reports on misinformation and hate speech across social media.
Nicholas Trutanich, the U.S. attorney for Nevada, said, "Violent instigators have hijacked peaceful protests and demonstrations across the country, including Nevada, exploiting the real and legitimate outrage over Mr. Floyd's death for their own radical agendas."
Charging documents say Lynam and Parshall came to the attention of the FBI in April when someone came forward concerned that the two men were going to conduct a terrorist attack. The FBI said it signed that person up as a confidential source.
Loomis would later come under investigation in May.
The documents say Lynam is an Army reservist, Parshall was in the Navy and Loomis was in the Air Force.
Federal prosecutors allege that the three men, at various times and not always together, discussed various plots to either destroy an observation station at Lake Mead, near Las Vegas, destroy power substations, throw a smoke bomb at a ReOpen Las Vegas rally and other attacks.
On May 27, Loomis and Parshall along with the informant, went on a hike where they are alleged to have "discussed causing an incident to incite chaos and possibly a riot, in response to the death of a suspect (referring to George Floyd) in police custody in Minneapolis, MN."
The plan was for Parshall and Loomis to "firebomb" a power substation to distract law enforcement so they could carry out their plan to incite a riot, the documents say. The plan was ultimately dropped in favor of a new plan, and the trio, along with the informant, planned to take Molotov cocktails to a Black Lives Matter protest, instead, according to the complaint.
"They wanted to use the momentum of the George Floyd death in police custody in the City of Minneapolis to hopefully stir enough confusion and excitement, that others see the two explosions and police presence and begin to riot in the streets out of anger," the documents say.
But because the FBI was monitoring all of the planning through the confidential source, the documents said, it was able to stop the plan from coming to fruition when an FBI SWAT team deployed and arrested Lynam, Loomis and Parshall.
Lynam and Loomis appear to have left sparse social media footprints, but pages that NBC News was able to trace to Parshall offered some clues to his leanings.
In March, in a post about the federal response to COVID-19 on a public Facebook page, "The New Sons & Daughters of Liberty," Parshall commented: "Start. Fomenting. Insurrection."
A Facebook profile — which was traced to Parshall through his username, "cptkiwidparshall," photos cross-posted to Facebook and Instagram, and the online relationships with the other suspects — contains images connected to the far right: a Confederate flag, an image of a rainbow swastika and the "Kekistan" flag, among them. Kekistan is a fictional nation created by white nationalists and far-right trolls, and its flag mimics a Nazi war flag.
A GoFundMe page was created for Parshall on Tuesday by a member of the Southwest Igloo A-Team. "Igloo" is a nickname Boogaloo groups use to evade moderation.
Facebook appeared to have been an important factor for organization. According to the federal complaint, all three indicted men were part of a Nevada Boogaloo Facebook group and met at ReOpen rallies, which were organized on Facebook.
A Facebook spokesperson said the company had removed the accounts of the three men "for attempting to commit mass violence."
"We continue to remove content using boogaloo and related terms when accompanied by statements and images depicting armed violence," the spokesperson said in an email. "We are also preventing these Pages and groups from being recommended on Facebook.”