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Florida man arrested with explosive near Oath Keepers rally

By Adam Schrader
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Florida man arrested with explosive near Oath Keepers rally
Investigators searched Smith’s home where they found “pipe-type” explosive devices and “hand grenade-type” explosive devices, Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said during a press conference. Photo courtesy Pinellas County Sheriff's Office

Jan. 8 (UPI) -- A Florida man was arrested Thursday with a homemade explosive near a rally held by the Oath Keepers, police said Friday.

Deputies with the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office spotted Garrett Smith, 22, running from the direction of the protest while carrying a backpack around 7:24 p.m. on January 6, the anniversary of the riot at the U.S. Capitol.

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About 85 members of the Oath Keepers were holding a rally in the parking lot of the Pinellas County Courthouse to support Jeremy Brown, a member of the far-right militaristic movement who was arrested for participating in the riot at the U.S. Capitol last year.

Brown, 47, is currently being held without bond in the Pinellas County Jail on a U.S. Marshall's Service warrant stemming from the Capitol riot.

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After Smith's arrest, investigators found fireworks in his car -- which was parked near the protest. Investigators also searched Smith's home where they found more "pipe-type" explosive devices and "hand grenade-type" explosive devices, Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said during a press conference.

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Detectives said they are still working to determine why Smith had the explosives and how he planned to use them, officials said. It was not immediately clear if Smith has ties to the group.

"We really have no idea as to what his political leanings are and whether he supported or opposed the protesters at the jail," Gualtieri said.

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Gualtieri noted that Smith has no criminal history and no social media accounts that investigators could find, describing him as a "sleeper."

"Smith is what we call a sleeper, and these are the most concerning individuals because there are no opportunities to intervene and thwart their criminal activity before they actually act,' the sheriff said.

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