Taylor Taranto, a suspect charged in the deadly January 6 2021 insurrection on the U.S. Capitol, threatened to detonate an explosive at a government building the day before he was arrested near the home of former President Obama.
In a court memo filed Wednesday, federal prosecutors revealed that the 37-year-old from Washington state was streaming live on YouTube on June 28 when he said he was headed with a detonator to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) an agency within the Commerce Department that’s headquartered in Gaithersburg, Maryland.
On June 29th Taranto was arrested when Secret Service agents spotted him several blocks from Obama’s Washington DC residence.
He had been wanted on an arrest warrant for four misdemeanor charges related to January 6. Prosecutors have since indicated that they could bring additional charges against Taranto.
“He made several statements indicating that he intended to blow up his vehicle at NIST, including a statement that he had a detonator, that he was on a ‘one way mission,’ and that the vehicle was self-driving so he would not have to be anywhere near it when it ‘went off,'” prosecutors said in their court memo. They further noted that there is a nuclear reactor on the agency’s campus.
His YouTube statements sparked the FBI, which had been “monitoring [his] online activities” due to his alleged actions on January 6, to start searching for Taranto, the memo explains.
Ahead of his arrest near the Obama home he had begun streaming from his van, saying he was driving to the former President’s neighborhood. He eventually stopped, left the van and started walking, making “several concerning statements regarding the residences in the area, saying that he was looking for ‘entrance points,’ that he had ‘control’ of the block and ‘had them surrounded’ and that he was going to find a way to the ‘tunnels underneath their houses,’,” according to prosecutors.
Amid his arrest by the Secret Service, an FBI bomb squad and DC Metropolitan Police K9 unit were called to the scene. The search dog detected gunpowder in Taranto’s van, according to prosecutors, as well as “hundreds of rounds of nine-millimeter ammunition and two firearms” and a machete.
No explosives were found inside the vehicle.
The prosecutors’ memo also asserts that Taranto has threatened members of Congress, including House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD), the latter of whom was on last year’s House Select January 6 Committee.
The feds further allege that on June 18, Taranto and some associates live-streamed their entry into an elementary school in Maryland.
“[The video] depicted Taranto and his associates walking around the school, entering the gymnasium, and using a projector to display a film related to January 6,” said prosecutors, adding that the suspects chose this particular school due to its closeness to Raskin’s home.
This extensive list of alleged activity and threats, said prosecutors, justified keeping Taranto detained as he faces charges.