A Las Vegas man is accused of committing an “act of terrorism” after entering a mall with a fake gun and threatening to shoot.
Police arrested Emile Daren Hopson, 25, last Thursday after witnesses reported seeing a man wearing a green hoodie, a mask and a rifle walk into the Boulevard Mall, Fox 5 Vegas reported. Inside, multiple witnesses reported shots fired and said the suspect was pointing his gun at shoppers and employees.
The reported threat triggered a full-on multi-assault counter-terrorism actions capability, or “MACTAC response” by police, as several officers were called to the scene. A mall employee who recognized Hopson told authorities he was recently denied a job at the Sheikh shoe store and had threatened to “shoot the store up.”
The suspect was arrested at a nearby apartment complex later that evening after Las Vegas Metro police cleared the mall and determined no shots were fired. The weapon Hobson was carrying also turned out to be a fake, according to the police report.
On Monday, the young man was charged with terrorism, making threats or conveying false information concerning an act of terrorism and burglary while in possession of a deadly weapon, the Las Vegas Review Journal reported. He’s currently being held at the Clark County Detention Center.
According to the Sheikh store manager, Hopson visited the store nearly every day and was recently accused of stealing merchandise from another store inside the mall. Officers were able to verify those claims with two documents, according to Fox 5 Vegas.
A witness who ran from the mall that night showed police still surveillance photos on her phone showing Hobson holding a rifle inside the mall. Another witness told police he had interacted with the suspect hours earlier and also showed them a photo of Hobson.
The hunt was then on for the man described as 5’10″ with an afro-style hair, sideburns, a beard and a “strange walk.” Police quickly located Hobson at a nearby apartment complex where he identified himself, allegedly faked a seizure and then made “completely unprompted excited utterances” to detectives. He also claimed he’d been robbed at gunpoint by a man matching his description.
“At this time, based on the information I have already obtained, there is probable cause to believe Hopson committed an act of terrorism,” an arresting detective stated in the police report. “This is due to the current climate in this country regarding active shooting incidents.”
The “terrorism” charge has sparked swift reactions from critics who were quick to point out how white suspects who commit heinous mass shootings are rarely ever dubbed terrorists, or charged with terrorism. On Monday, a white teen gunman opened fire at Santa Fe High School in Texas, killing 10 people. So far, he’s only been charged with capital murder.
There have been dozens of mass shootings by suspected white supremacists, and I have NEVER seen these people referred to as "terrorists" or get charged with "terrorism". But …… https://t.co/IZlWy6nLSk
— Tariq Nasheed 🇺🇸 (@tariqnasheed) May 21, 2018
They didn’t even call the Vegas shooter a terrorist.
— JH ✊🏿 🇿🇦 (@rome00096) May 22, 2018
They charge him with terrorism for having a fake gun in a mall. But a white man bombing people in Austin, Tx is a “troubled person”. AmeriKKKa Post racial my ass!
— SunshineMe (@LadyCie) May 21, 2018
So accurate pic.twitter.com/SWBAgdlj15
— The Hash Slinging Slasher🔪 (@7_8YaBitch_Srry) May 21, 2018
So Stephen Paddock who shot up all the people at the concert won’t be labeled a terrorist but this guy… ok got it. pic.twitter.com/mmxO75aLBt
— A (@LVaces004) May 22, 2018
Hopson is scheduled for a court hearing on June 4.