In the days leading up to his arrest, Taranto had threatened to blow up the National Institute of Standards and Technology, warned President Kevin McCarthy that he « can’t stop what’s coming » and entered an elementary school near Maryland’s home by Rep. Jamie Raskin as he live streams apparent threats to the Democratic congressman.
Taranto had lived in a van for two months before his arrest, traveling from his home state of Washington to the nation’s capital, prosecutors say, after reports that McCarthy pledged to provide access to security footage of January 6 to those accused in the attack. Taranto called McCarthy’s office on June 27, according to the Justice Department a 26-page filing requesting the pre-trial detention of Taranto.
The filing paints a striking picture of a man befuddled by conspiracy theories — who acted so erratically he was banned from a protest site organized by supporters of other Jan. 6 defendants — who had access to an arsenal of weapons before of his arrest. Prosecutors say Taranto had two firearms in his van: a Smith and Wesson M&P Shield and a Ceska 9mm CZ Scorpion E3. But 18 other guns registered in his name have not yet been recovered, they say.
A June 30 search of the van also uncovered « hundreds of rounds of nine-millimeter ammunition, a steering wheel lock and a machete. »
Furthermore, prosecutors fear that Taranto has outside help to cover his tracks.
« Since his arrest, at least two of his social media accounts appear to have deleted information or have been deleted altogether, » they write. « It is currently unknown who is deleting these accounts, but there are fears that if released, Taranto will continue to attempt to destroy evidence. »
The episode also underscores the sometimes incredibly slow pace of arrests related to the January 6 attack, which has strained Justice Department resources as they pursue hundreds of persistent cases. Taranto was spotted in federal court by US marshals and an NBC reporter at the January 6 sentencing of defendant David Walls-Kaufman on June 14, engaged in a sharp exchange with courthouse security officials after violating state policy. cell phone use court. At the time, Taranto had been identified – for more than a year – as someone who had been in the immediate vicinity of Walls-Kaufman on January 6th.
Four days after his court appearance, on a Sunday, Taranto showed up at Piney Branch Elementary School in Raskin’s Takoma Park neighborhood.
« I haven’t told anyone where he lives because I want it all to myself, » Taranto told listeners during a live stream, as he and several associates walked into the school and used a projector to broadcast a Jan. 6-related film, according to Audiences ministries.
The day after calling McCarthy’s office, Taranto live streamed on his YouTube channel that he was in his van in Gaithersburg, Maryland, and was planning to detonate explosives in the NIST building. Law enforcement officials were aware of the threat but indicated they were still struggling to locate him.
“Before June 28, 2023, the police were looking for Taranto, but the lack of a fixed address has frustrated the efforts to find it. Upon seeing his threatening comments, law enforcement has stepped up efforts to locate Taranto and increased resources to assist in the search,” prosecutors indicated. “However, efforts to locate Taranto that day were unsuccessful. « .
Taranto will be in the courtroom on Wednesday afternoon for a pre-trial detention hearing.