When Ronald Sandlin and Nathaniel DeGrave appeared in federal court in Las Vegas last month on charges of participating in the Capitol Hill riot, prosecutors could not link them to any extremist group.
They were not members of the Proud Boys or Oath Keepers, who stand accused of conspiring to plan the deadly Jan. 6 attack on Congress. And both men had no serious criminal background.
But like hundreds of others caught up in the Capitol Hill mob, they shared some of the same grievances, particularly the false belief that the election was stolen from former President Donald Trump.
Real estate agents, business owners, professionals, police officers, military members and veterans all joined the attack alongside hard-core extremist groups, according to experts and national media reports.
“Emerging right now is kind of a larger ilk of individuals who fully embrace conspiracies and disinformation that have been widely peddled from the highest levels of our country, including our former president,” said Joanna Mendelson, associate director of the Center on Extremism for the Anti-Defamation League. “This is not something that is going away.”
In Southern Nevada, authorities are aware of the broadening spectrum of extremism, fueled in part by months of COVID-19 isolation and online venting.
And they are concerned.
“We live in a world now where where grievances can be established very quickly, solidified by chatting with other people in special social media platforms or online groups, and then action occurs immediately thereafter,” said Deputy Chief Andy Walsh, who oversees the Homeland Security Division for the Metropolitan Police Department.
“The challenge for law enforcement is determining the difference between someone who is ranting and raving and someone who is capable of carrying out an act of mass violence.”
In a report this month, the Southern Poverty Law Center said the proliferation