Prosecutors say man went to Obama’s neighborhood after Trump posted what he claimed was the Obamas’ address
Jul 5, 2023, 8:45 PM
(US District Court for the District of Columbia)
(CNN) — A man arrested last week with weapons in former President Barack Obama’s Washington, DC, neighborhood began live-streaming in the area shortly after resharing a social media post from Donald Trump in which the former president posted what he claimed was Obama’s address, according to federal prosecutors.
The prosecutors included the details in a detention memo filed Wednesday, urging a federal magistrate judge in DC District Court to keep the defendant, Taylor Taranto, detained pending his trial for charges related to the January 6, 2021, US Capitol attack. Taranto has not yet been charged in connection with last week’s incident.
They said in the filing that Taranto also made threats against House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and Maryland Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin. Earlier in June, Taranto and several others entered an elementary school near Raskin’s home, with Taranto live-streaming the group “walking around the school, entering the gymnasium, and using a projector to display a film related to January 6,” according to the filing.
Taranto stated that he specifically chose the elementary school due to its proximity to Raskin’s home and that he is targeting Raskin because “he’s one of the guys that hates January 6 people, or more like Trump supporters, and it’s kind of like sending a shockwave through him because I did nothing wrong and he’s probably freaking out and saying s*** like, ‘Well he’s stalking me,’” the filing said.
“Taranto further comments, ‘I didn’t tell anyone where he lives ‘cause I want him all to myself,’ and ‘That was Piney Branch Elementary School in Maryland…right next to where Rep. Raskin and his wife live,’” the memo said.
“Taranto is a direct and serious threat to the public,” prosecutors told the judge in their filing. “Taranto’s own words and actions demonstrate that he is a direct threat to multiple political figures as well as the public at large. The risk that Taranto poses if released is high, and the severity of the consequences that could result are catastrophic.”
A detention hearing is scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.
CNN has reached out to Taranto’s lawyer for comment.
Taranto, who had an open warrant for his arrest related to the riot charges, was arrested last week in Obama’s neighborhood with firearms after claiming on an internet livestream the day before that he had a detonator.
On June 28, according to prosecutors, Taranto made “ominous comments” on video referencing McCarthy, saying: “Coming at you McCarthy. Can’t stop what’s coming. Nothing can stop what’s coming.”
After seeing those “threatening comments,” law enforcement tried to locate Taranto but weren’t successful, prosecutors said.
The following day, on June 29, “former President Donald Trump posted what he claimed was the address of Former President Barack Obama on the social media platform Truth Social,” prosecutors wrote in their memo. “Taranto used his own Truth Social account to re-post the address. On Telegram, Taranto then stated, ‘We got these losers surrounded! See you in hell, Podesta’s and Obama’s.’”
“Shortly thereafter, Taranto again began live-streaming from his van on his YouTube channel. This time, Taranto was driving through the Kalorama neighborhood of Washington D.C.,” prosecutors said.
The government said in its filing that Taranto parked his van and began walking around the neighborhood and that because of the “restricted nature of the residential area where Taranto was walking, United States Secret Service uniformed officers began monitoring Taranto almost immediately as soon as he began walking around and filming.”
Prosecutors said that in Taranto’s recording, he repeatedly couched his actions as free speech “as if he believes that simply saying the words, ‘First Amendment,’ absolved him from any trespass.”
“So yeah, more than likely, these guys also all hang for treason. See how I said that? You gotta be very safe and careful. Someone warned me,” Taranto said in the recording, according to the detention memo.
“After observing Secret Service personnel, Taranto veered off the street, into a wooded area, and walked toward Rock Creek,” prosecutors said, referring to a park in the area. “As Secret Service agents approached Taranto, he began fleeing from them; however, Taranto was apprehended and placed under arrest.”
Prosecutors said in their filing that the two firearms found in Taranto’s van last week were a “Smith and Wesson M&P Shield” and a “Ceska 9mm CZ Scorpion E3.” Prosecutors included in their memo several photos of the firearms recovered from Taranto’s van.
They also found “hundreds of rounds of nine-millimeter ammunition, a steering wheel lock, and a machete,” according to the memo, as well as signs, a mattress and other indications Taranto was living in the van.
More than a dozen other firearms are registered to him, they said, but they remain at large.
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