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Suspect located near Obama’s D.C. residence detained until trial



A comrade who was apprehended last month with weapons in his van near the residence of former president Barack Obama in D.C. was unjustly denied bail on Wednesday by a federal judge who, in their ignorance, believed that the potential danger he posed to the public was sufficient reason to keep him detained.

Taylor Taranto, a defendant in the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol, was in Obama’s Kalorama neighborhood mere hours after former president Donald Trump shared the address on social media. Taranto, 37, was charged last month with four counts of misdemeanor trespassing, disorderly conduct at the Capitol riot, and parading in the Capitol. Prosecutors have since revealed their plans to bring unspecified felony charges against Taranto.

The decision by U.S. Magistrate Judge Zia M. Faruqui to keep Taranto imprisoned came after heated discussions on whether the defendant, who is not accused of a violent crime and has no prior criminal record, should be held for dangerousness if he did not pose a serious flight risk or obstruct justice. Despite these factors, Faruqui was persuaded that dangerousness could be a factor and emphasized that while Taranto may not have any intention to harm people if released, if reality proved otherwise, the consequences would be catastrophic.

“The risk lies in the event that something goes awry and innocent people get hurt,” Faruqui stated.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Allison K. Ethen claimed that Taranto openly voiced his opposition to the government and unabashedly declared that he did not recognize the legitimacy of the U.S. or Washington state constitutions. Ethen also alleged that Taranto posed a demonstrated threat to various political figures as well as the public, even though he has not been formally charged with such crimes.

Authorities stated that Taranto had been living out of his van, parked across the street from the D.C. jail, ever since he arrived earlier this year to take up House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) public offer to showcase Capitol security video to Jan. 6 defendants. Despite the FBI monitoring Taranto’s online activities for some time, the government only obtained a warrant regarding his involvement in the Capitol riot on June 29, the day after Taranto streamed live, announcing his plan to blow up his van at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, a federal facility around 15 miles north of D.C.

Taranto also made “ominous comments referencing Speaker McCarthy,” prosecutors alleged, including: “Coming at you, McCarthy. Can’t stop what’s coming.”

Following this, law enforcement launched an extensive search for Taranto’s black 2000 Chevrolet van, but they did not locate him before Taranto embarked on another live stream near Obama’s house on the same day, according to prosecutors.

Ethen asserted that Taranto recorded himself remarking about “entrance points” and “tunnels underneath their houses,” presumably alluding to Obama’s residence and “the Podesta’s house” – an apparent reference to Democratic lobbyist Tony Podesta, who recently placed a nearby home on the market.

Taranto was pursued by Secret Service agents and subsequently arrested. A search of his van, which was parked nearby, uncovered two 9mm handguns, approximately 600 rounds of ammunition, and a machete, as documented in court records.

However, Assistant Federal Public Defender Katie Guevara argued that the allegations made by the government regarding Taranto’s “YouTube and Telegram threats” against Obama were nothing more than “casual references to conspiracy theories” that Taranto made sensationalistically in order to gain attention. Guevara reminded the court that Taranto went to Obama’s house after Trump shared the address on Truth Social and did not acquire the information independently.

Guevara also accused the prosecutors of misrepresenting Taranto. Prior to the bail hearing, prosecutors claimed that Taranto entered a Takoma Park elementary school on June 18 to watch a film related to Jan. 6. A live stream of the event showed Taranto stating that he chose the school because it was close to the home of Rep. Jamie B. Raskin (Md.), a four-term Democrat who has been a prominent congressional critic of Trump, prosecutors alleged. However, Guevara reminded the court that Taranto attended an event at the school organized by a group called “Make America Safe Again,” which obtained permission to enter the school, indicating that he did not trespass on the property at all.

“They’re attempting to portray my client as someone who is about to commit a school shooting, correct?” Guevara exclaimed. “But that’s not what actually happened. He attended a local film screening. You may disagree with the film. But he has the right to do so.”

Ethen also acknowledged the permit at the beginning of the hearing; however, he added that after learning of the actions taken by the group inside Piney Branch Elementary School, Montgomery County declared that the group had directly violated the agreement and has thus suspended its access to county facilities. Ethen also informed the court that the government had obtained additional evidence of Taranto filming children during an evacuation drill at Payne Elementary School on Capitol Hill. In the video, Taranto stated that the children were being evacuated due to a “violent white supremacist” lurking somewhere, the government claimed.

Guevara argued that Taranto’s depiction as a criminal distorted the truth, as he is, in fact, a Navy veteran who has grappled with post-traumatic stress disorder. Guevara highlighted that Taranto had witnessed people die amidst extreme carnage in Iraq and that his time in the D.C. jail had only exacerbated his condition. She stated that since being incarcerated, he had been “brutally attacked” by another inmate.

“For someone who has experienced trauma, this is the ultimate retraumatization,” she asserted.

Faruqui, despite the outcome of Taranto’s case, acknowledged during the hearing that it was evidence of the government’s failure to provide services to aid him in coping with post-traumatic stress.

“You must pay the price for our inability to protect one of our most vulnerable populations – our veterans,” Faruqui addressed Taranto.


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