American authorities say they stopped three potential mass shootings after arresting three men who had all reportedly expressed interest or threatened to commit a shooting.
The three arrests were all in different states across the US, and were brought to the attention of authorities thanks to tips from members of the public.
The first arrest was made in Connecticut. Brandon Wagshol, 22, was taken in after he allegedly expressed interest in committing a mass shooting in posts on social media. Upon searching his property, authorities apparently found large capacity rifle magazines, and evidence Wagshol was building his own rifle.
Wagshol reportedly faces four charges of illegal possession of large capacity magazines, and is being held on a $250,000 bond. He is scheduled to appear in court on September 6, CNN reports.
In a statement from the FBI and Norwalk Police Department, authorities received a tip saying the 22-year-old was trying to buy the ammunition from out of state, was trying to build his own rifle, and expressed his interest in carrying out a mass shooting in posts on Facebook.
Upon searching his property, a number of weapons were found, including a handgun, a rifle, rifle scope with a laser, ammunition, body armour and other ‘tactical gear’. Some of the weapons were reportedly registered to Wagshol’s father, though the 22-year-old had access to them.
The second arrest was made in Daytona Beach, Florida. 25-year-old Tristan Scott Wix was arrested after he allegedly sent his girlfriend a number of ‘disturbing’ text messages in which he reportedly threatened to commit a mass shooting.
According to the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office, Wix was arrested in a Winn-Dixie parking lot after his ex-girlfriend alerted authorities. The 25-year-old’s text messages allegedly said he already had a location for a shooting in mind, and that ‘a good 100 kills would be nice’.
Volusia County Sheriff Michael Chitwood told CNN:
When you look at this kid’s background, he is the profile of a shooter. He lost his job, he lost his girlfriend, he’s depressed, he’s got the ammunition and he wants to become known for being the most prolific killer in American history.
One message from Wix reportedly read: ‘A school is a weak target.. id be more likely to open fire on a large crowd of people from over 3 miles away.. I’d wanna break a world record for longest confirmed kill ever’. Wix also wrote he wanted to die, and ‘have fun doing it’.
Authorities reportedly recovered a .22-calibre hunting rifle and 400 rounds of ammunition in Wix’s apartment, despite the 25-year-old telling investigators he didn’t own any firearms but was ‘fascinated’ with mass shootings.
Body camera video of @DBShoresPS arresting Tristan Wix, 25, Daytona Beach, yesterday afternoon. He's charged with threatening a mass shooting. Details at https://t.co/tozwPSc9r6 pic.twitter.com/opkun8HY3B
— Volusia Co. Sheriff (@VolusiaSheriff) August 17, 2019
The third arrest made over the weekend was in Ohio, where James Patrick Reardon, 20, was arrested for allegedly threatening to commit a shooting at a Jewish community centre.
Reardon was alerted to authorities after an Instagram account allegedly belonging to him was shown to officers. One post, for example, reportedly appeared to show a man firing a gun, with the location tagged as the Jewish Community Center of Youngstown.
According to Andy Lipkin, the executive vice-president of the Youngstown Area Jewish Federation, the Instagram post’s caption read: ‘Police identified the Youngstown Jewish Family Community shooter as local white nationalist Seamus O’Rearedon’ – Seamus is the Gaelic version of James.
Other posts on the social media account reportedly included anti-Semitic comments, white nationalist content and images of people firing guns. A search of Reardon’s property revealed a stash of weapons and ammunition, according to CNN.
The 20-year-old was reportedly arrested on Saturday, August 17, on one count of telecommunications harassment and one count of aggravated menacing.
If you are concerned someone you know may be a threat, contact your local law enforcement, or get in touch with a gun violence prevention program, such as the Sandy Hook Promise.
If you have a story you want to tell send it to UNILAD via [email protected]
Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.