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Man charged with threatening to use explosive following Capitol Hill standoff

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Man charged with threatening to use explosive following Capitol Hill standoff
FBI agents examine the pickup truck involved in a bomb threat near the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Thursday. Photo by Jemal Countess/UPI | License Photo

Aug. 20 (UPI) -- A North Carolina man faces charges of threatening to use a weapon of mass destruction and attempting to use an explosive device following a standoff in Washington, D.C., that's renewed calls for greater security on Capitol Hill.

Floyd Ray Roseberry kept authorities at bay for several hours on Thursday after he parked his pickup on a sidewalk in front of the Library of Congress and told officers that he had a bomb. U.S. Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger said he displayed what looked like a detonator in his hand.

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Roseberry, who live streamed his threat on social media during the ordeal, ultimately surrendered and was arrested.

The standoff began Thursday morning when Roseberry began throwing dollar bills onto the street from his black Chevrolet pickup truck with no license plates while parked outside of the library, according to an affidavit filed by FBI Special Agent Brandon Camiliere.

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The affidavit describes how Roseberry could be heard in his Facebook live stream claiming to have a bomb, calling for revolution and urging police to clear the area.

Roseberry said the bomb was made of 2.5 pounds of tannerite, an over-the-counter explosive, according to the affidavit. Once law enforcement arrived, Roseberry began communicating to them with messages written on a dry-erase board.

While holding up an old metal can that appeared to be fashioned into an explosive device, he used the board to indicate that the bomb would be triggered by a loud noise or the truck's windows being shot, the affidavit said.

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[President] "Joe Biden I'm not hurting nobody, but I think these flags need to go to half-staff brotha,'" he said, according to the affidavit. "I'm telling you, my windows pop, this bomb is gonna go, it's made for decimals."

U.S. Capitol Police said in a statement that officers brought him a phone "in hopes of trying to continue the dialogue. Then the suspect got out of the car on his own and USCP officers safely took him into custody."

After being taken into custody, law enforcement found an unknown powder at the bottom of the can and a fabricated trigger attached to the top, the affidavit said. The can was sent to an FBI laboratory for examination.

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Manger said there's no evidence Roseberry was aided by others. He'd previously posted videos to social media supporting former President Donald Trump and posted clips from the so-called "Million MAGA March" in Washington, D.C., last fall after Trump was defeated by Biden.

A local law enforcement official in Cleveland County, N.C., contacted the FBI as the standoff was unfolding, according to the affidavit. The local law enforcement official reported that they had been approached by an unidentified person related to Roseberry who was concerned about his anti-government views and intent to travel to Virginia or Washington, D.C., to engage in violence. The relative said that Roseberry said he "ordered a trench coat to protect him from Taser and pepper ball guns and he would just tip his cowboy hat at the police."

Roseberry's son, Christopher, told CNN that his father had become "frustrated" by politics. In other social posts, Roseberry had demanded to speak with Biden and made remarks alluding to a "revolution."

The incident has again spurred calls for greater security at and around the U.S. Capitol, which was attacked by radical supporters loyal to Trump on Jan. 6 in an attempt to overturn Biden's election victory.

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Malcolm Nance, a former Naval intelligence and counter terrorism officer, says there should be a permanent security fence around the Capitol complex.

"It should have happened long ago," he told NPR.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi praised U.S. Capitol Police for defusing the situation on Thursday, which prompted the evacuation of the Library of Congress, a House office building and the U.S. Supreme Court.

"Once again, the Capitol Police, FBI and other law enforcement dealt with a potential threat to the Capitol Hill community," Pelosi said in a statement. "The immense gratitude of the Congress is with all law enforcement officers who today and all days sacrifice to keep the Capitol Complex and those within it safe."

"We don't need a bomb blast to damage the Supreme Court, the Library of Congress and the U.S. Capitol building," Nance added.

The issue of improved security at the U.S. Capitol, as with other matters like COVID-19, has become a more partisan cause over the last few months. Democrats in Congress have overwhelmingly supported increased security and an investigation into the Jan. 6 attack.

Virtually all Republicans, on the other hand, have opposed both efforts across the board.

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Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., an avid Trump supporter who encouraged far-right radicals to go to the Capitol on Jan. 6, expressed sympathy for Roseberry.

"Although this terrorist's motivation is not yet publicly known, and generally speaking, I understand citizenry anger directed at dictatorial socialism and its threat to liberty, freedom [is] the very fabric of American society," Brooks tweeted.

"The way to stop socialism's march is for patriotic Americans to fight back in 2022 and 2024 elections."

Thursday was the second time since the January insurrection that the U.S. Capitol was threatened. In April, a man drove his vehicle into a barricade just north of the building, killing USCP officer William Evans. The driver of the vehicle was shot and killed by other officers.

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