Las Vegas Sun

October 18, 2017

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FBI had warned of possible plot against Las Vegas high school

Jake Benton Howell

Jake Benton Howell

A teen arrested after authorities found weapons in his car at a Las Vegas high school has been linked to a suspect facing federal firearms, explosives and terror threat charges, police said.

A Metro Police arrest report for Jake Howell, 18 — arrested Friday at the Northwest Career and Technical Academy — indicates he was friends with Steven Fernandes, who is in federal custody.

Fernandes, a former student at Northwest Career and Technical Academy, was arrested in September on federal charges including unlawful possession of firearms, possession of explosives material and terrorist threats.

The FBI alerted authorities at the Southern Nevada Counter Terrorism Center that “associates of former student Steven Fernandes were possibly involved in a plot against the school,” according to the arrest report.

The school provided police with a list of people who seemed to interact with Fernandes, including Howell and an unnamed student.

The unidentified student sent an email to teachers asking if he could wear camouflage gear to school Dec. 21 and guard the entrance as students arrived, according to the arrest report.

Police questioned the student, who denied any knowledge of a plot against the school, the report states. Authorities did not find any weapons on him, and he was not arrested, police said.

Meanwhile, the school contacted police after Howell, a former student, walked into the building Friday, authorities said.

Howell, who said he attends Utah Valley University, told police he stopped by the high school to visit friends and two former teachers, the report states.

During an interview, Howell told authorities he and Fernandes formed a fledgling militia group known as the 327th Recon Unit of Nevada, the report states.

Howell consented to a search of his car, where authorities discovered a rifle, an air-powered pistol, ammunition, a bayonet and two knives, among other survival-type gear.

Howell told authorities he “loaded his vehicle with various survival gear items to be prepared for the ‘society collapse’ that was rumored to occur” Friday, according to the report. He denied having any intent to do harm at the school, police said.

Police arrested Howell on a count of possessing of a dangerous weapon on school property and transported him to the Clark County Detention Center, where he remains in custody.

Howell has since been charged with five counts of possession of a dangerous weapon on school property, according to a criminal complaint filed Monday.

The counts relate to the following weapons seized: an SKS 7.62-mm rifle, a 0.177-caliber Airsoft pistol, a 16-inch bayonet, a black knife with a 5.5-inch blade, and a silver knife with a six-inch blade.

A preliminary hearing for Howell is scheduled for Jan. 8.

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