LAS VEGAS — Less than four hours before Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final was set to begin Tuesday on the Las Vegas Strip, authorities in Nevada arrested a man they say threatened to carry out a mass shooting at the arena where the Golden Knights would defeat the Florida Panthers to capture their first championship that night.
An arrest report released Thursday by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department identifies the suspect as Matthew DeSavio, who is described by detectives in the document as a 33-year-old man with a history of mental illness and arrests “that would cause a reasonable person to feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, harassed or fearful for their immediate safety.” The report doesn’t say whether detectives have found any weapons in DeSavio’s possession.
A lawyer who could comment on DeSavio’s behalf wasn’t listed in jail or court records Thursday evening.
In a series of rambling text messages, phone calls and social media posts on Tuesday, according to the report, the suspect threatened to “shoot up” the hockey game against the Florida Panthers in a massacre that would rival the October 2017 mass shooting on the Strip. That mass shooting — the deadliest in modern American history — left 60 dead and hundreds more injured.
At least three people contacted police about the suspect in the hours before his arrest Tuesday afternoon. The 911 callers included an acquaintance from grade school who told police DeSavio has been stalking her for close to a decade, as well as a relative with an active restraining order against DeSavio, according to the report.
Court records show DeSavio’s arrests in Las Vegas date to 2014 on charges that include domestic battery and stalking. Most recently, according to the records, he was arrested in October on a felony charge of threatening an act of terrorism or mass destruction.
Details surrounding those threats weren’t immediately available Thursday, but the court records show he was ordered to undergo a competency evaluation.
According to a motion filed in March by his public defender in that case, DeSavio was “diagnosed with a mental illness and found incompetent to stand trial.” But after that finding, he remained at the county jail in downtown Las Vegas for more than 70 days instead of undergoing treatment because, the motion said, there were no beds available at either of the state’s two forensic psychiatric facilities.
A judge dismissed the terrorism charge against DeSavio in April after the state again failed to place him at one of the facilities, according to the judge’s order. He was released from custody.
Now, DeSavio faces another charge of threatening an act of terrorism or mass destruction after his arrest Tuesday, court records show. He also faces a felony charge of aggravated stalking and a gross misdemeanor charge for allegedly violating the restraining order against his relative.
According to his arrest report, he was taken into custody Tuesday afternoon at the workplace of one of the 911 callers, who told police the suspect had been harassing her for years, after the two met in school.
While the woman was being interviewed by police on Tuesday, DeSavio called her. “No more nice man,” he said, according to a transcript of the call detailed in the arrest report. “I’m headed to your office now. I’m almost there.”
Police said he was arrested without incident when he arrived. DeSavio was being held Thursday at the county jail on $60,000 bail. Records show he has not been formally charged in the case and is scheduled to appear in court next week.