Saturday, January 8, 2022

REPORT: County Sheriff Gives Diplomatic Update On Bomb Suspect From Florida Protest

Source: Washington Examiner

Published: January 07, 2022

By: Abigail Adcox

A man is behind bars on felony charges after police say he brought a pipe-style explosive device to a Florida protest in support of a detainee charged in connection to the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot.

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri held a press conference Friday announcing the arrest of Garrett James Smith, 22, who is accused of bringing explosive devices near a lawfully organized protest at a county courthouse to oppose the incarceration of alleged Jan. 6 rioter Jeremy Brown.

Deputies first spotted Smith running near the site of the protest wearing all black with a "black covering over his face" and carrying a black backpack, Gualtieri said.

Smith was arrested shortly after for loitering and prowling. In the backpack, deputies discovered the explosive device, a black helmet, and a checklist of the items he was wearing.

The area around the protest was searched, though no explosive devices were located.

Gualtieri said Smith's car was found nearby with M-80 fireworks inside. A search of Smith's residence turned up four grenade-type explosives and another pipe-style explosive, he said.

Garrett James Smith. - (Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.)

"He was prepared to do it. He was all dressed, he had his device, he had his plan," Gualtieri said. "Something caused him to want to get out of there quickly."

Smith had no previous criminal history or social media, which Gualtieri said classified him as a "sleeper," a person with no indications that they would commit a major crime.

"It could have been very destructive, and he could have hurt a lot of people," he said. "It had the potential to be very harmful to people."

Further details provided in the press conference revealed that Smith's black helmet had logos associated with similar protests in Portland, Oregon, and others across the country. Investigators also learned Smith had recently traveled to Portland.

Authorities said it is not clear at this point whether Smith was there in support or opposition of the protesters, as he was not cooperating with authorities.

Smith faces three charges of making, possessing, and/or discharging a destructive device and one count of loitering and prowling. He is currently being held on $300,250 bond at Pinellas County Justice Center, pending trial.

The investigation is still ongoing.

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