A teenager arrestedÂ lastÂ week with an unloaded assault rifle at a Las Vegas high school hasÂ been linkedÂ by counterterrorism investigators to another local teen whoÂ federal authoritiesÂ said stockpiled guns and explosives and spoke aboutÂ staging a mass casualtyÂ attack.
Police already wereÂ looking for 18-year-old Jake Benton Howell when he arrived at hisÂ former schoolÂ on Dec. 21 with 40 rounds of ammunition and a 7.62mm SKSÂ rifle in the back seatÂ of his car, according to a police report released on Thursday.
Authorities had beenÂ checkingÂ reports that associates and friends of Steven Matthew FernandesÂ plannedÂ an action against the school, Northwest Career and Technical Academy,Â as revenge for Fernandes being held in federal custody, according to theÂ policeÂ report.
Howell’s name was on aÂ listÂ that police and school officials compiled of current and former students with whom Fernandes associated at the 1,900-student campus.
Howell, now a student atÂ Utah Valley University, was unarmed when he wasÂ confronted by a school policeÂ lieutenant. Police said he made no threats and caused no disturbance before hisÂ arrest. He told authorities heÂ drove 400 miles from Orem, Utah, to visitÂ favorite former teachers.
‘Everything worked right,’Â Clark County School District police Capt. Ken Young said on Thursday. ‘We wereÂ looking into the rumors. Things came together and we were able to find a weaponÂ at the school without an incident.’
Howell later acknowledgedÂ his friendship with Fernandes, who he identified asÂ the founder of a militiaÂ group called the 327th Recon Unit of Nevada.Â But he said he didn’t know of anyÂ plot against the school.
Investigators also found aÂ compressed air pellet gun, camouflage backpacks andÂ military-style uniforms,Â food, water and survival gear in Howell’s car.Â He told investigators heÂ collected the items in anticipation of theÂ collapse of society.
Howell was arrested onÂ five charges of possession of a dangerous weapon on school grounds after policeÂ seized the gun and ammunition, a 16-inch bayonet and three large survival-styleÂ knives from the car. He was being held at the ClarkÂ County jail in Las VegasÂ pending a Jan. 8 court appearance.
Possession of a dangerousÂ weapon on school grounds is a gross misdemeanor inÂ Nevada that carries aÂ possible penalty of a year in jail and a $2,000Â fine.
The Las VegasÂ Review-Journal first reported theÂ link between the two students.
Fernandes, also a formerÂ student at the high school, has been in federal custodyÂ since his arrest Sept.Â 13 driving to work at a RadioShack. Police found a loaded shotgun and ammunitionÂ in his car and reported seizing fiveÂ rifles, four handguns and thousands ofÂ rounds of ammunition from hisÂ home, along with ‘The Anarchist’s Cookbook’Â how-to manual forÂ manufacturing explosives.
Federal prosecutorsÂ haveÂ cited an email in which the 18-year-old Fernandes described himself as theÂ commanding officer of 327th Nevada Militia, an urban survivalist unit with sixÂ or seven members. Authorities said he told a confidential FBI informant that heÂ could kill more than the 12 slain in a theaterÂ last July in Aurora, Colo., thatÂ he would like to use children in a dayÂ care center for target practice and thatÂ he could attack the Las VegasÂ Strip.