Las Vegas Casino and Church Shooting Plot Prevented, FBI Charges Ohio Man, Could Face 20 Years

Posted on: November 20, 2017, 01:00h. 

Last updated on: November 20, 2017, 01:06h.

An Ohio man threatening another Las Vegas casino shooting has been arrested and charged by federal authorities. The FBI says Wei Li, 28, sent numerous text messages to his estranged wife, who lives in Las Vegas, warning her of an impending mass shooting at casinos and at the church she attends. It wasn’t stated if Mrs. Li contacted the Bureau directly, or how they specifically learned of the threat.

Las Vegas shooting FBI arrest
Federal authorities say 28-year-old Wei Li of Ohio was planning another Las Vegas mass shooting, but the FBI learned of his plans and arrested him before he could carry it out.  (Image: City of Cuyahoga Falls)

Li indicated in the texts that he had made a successful dry run, and that the shooting “would go down in history.”

The criminal complaint doesn’t name specific casinos where the alleged perpetrator planned to carry out the attack, nor the church where his wife was a member. The FBI did say the church was large, with at least 1,000 people attending a typical service.

The Las Vegas Valley is home to numerous churches that meet the 2,000 or more weekend attendance criteria to be labeled a “megachurch.” Many are of Mormon or Baptist denominations, but it’s unknown what faith Mrs. Li practices.

In texts obtained by police, Li told his wife, “You made me do this.” He also sent her photos posing with guns and knives.

When detained by federal investigators and asked to unlock his phone, Li quickly deleted a text chain. He’s been charged with sending interstate threatening communications, and destruction of evidence.

Li, who remains in custody on $500,000 bond, told law enforcement that he wasn’t going to carry out the attack. Should he be found guilty of transmitting threatening interstate communications, he could face more than 20 years in prison.

Casinos Taking No Chances

Las Vegas remains on high alert nearly two months after the Mandalay Bay/Route 91 Harvest shooting that left 58 victims dead and hundreds injured. Casinos along the Strip have increased their security, and some have taken steps to put an end to the decades-long tradition of absolute guest room privacy by limiting how long a “do not disturb” sign can keep hotel staff out of a room.

A month after the Las Vegas shooting, a local madman shot parishioners at a Baptist church in Texas that left 26 people dead. Terrorism and security experts have labeled churches as “soft targets,” defined as locations that are relatively unprotected and more than normally vulnerable to a shooting.

The Canyon Ridge Christian Church draws more than 6,000 people each weekend, and the International Church of Las Vegas pulls in 5,000 attendees. Central Church, which has three locations in Las Vegas and one in nearby Henderson, is one of the ten largest churches in the US, with over 16,500 weekly parishioners.

It isn’t known if one of the aforementioned churches was where Li was planning to attack. But in a Facebook post this week, Central Church said, “Turn to Jesus for security.”

Paddock Update

When gunman Stephen Paddock killed himself on October 1, he left behind an estate estimated to be worth $5 million. He died in intestate, meaning with no legal will, and as he was unmarried and had no children, there are no immediate and obvious heirs.

Attorneys for victims of the shooting have filed legal documents requesting that the estate be placed into a “constructive trust” that will eventually be distributed to victims and their families.

The Las Vegas Victims’ Fund Committee, a group of 16 who are overseeing donation distributions, has determined that victims (or their families) who suffered death, paralysis, and permanent injuries will “receive the highest level of payment.”

The committee currently has $14 million in accessible money, mostly from GoFundMe contributions, but the complex application and distribution process has many potential recipients upset and in dire financial straits.