A Florida man suspected of being affiliated with Antifa was busted near a Jan. 6 anniversary rally in Florida carrying a homemade pipe bomb and a detailed plan of “direct action,” authorities said.
Garrett James Smith was arrested Thursday — his 22nd birthday — as a local congressman joined more than 80 others at a rally supporting a member of the Oath Keepers being held on Capitol riot charges.
Officers chased Smith — who “stuck out” dressed all in black, including a ski mask — when he suddenly sprinted away from the rally outside Pinellas County Jail, local Sheriff Bob Gualtieri told a press conference.
Officers then found a homemade pipe bomb in his backpack, which “had the potential to be very harmful,” the sheriff warned.
“It could have been very destructive, and he could have hurt a lot of people,” Gualtieri said, adding that he was certain Smith was “prepared” to set off the bomb before he was spooked and fled.
Alongside the bomb, officers found a handwritten “direct action checklist” detailing the armor he needed, such as a gas mask, duct tape and flammable rags, the sheriff said.
Smith also had a black helmet decorated with three red arrows in a circle, the sheriff said of the “Iron Front” logo widely used by Antifa. The suspect had until several months ago been based in Portland, the troubled Oregon city that saw nightly riots by the left-wing militant group.
A search of Smith’s nearby home — where he lives with his parents — found another pipe bomb, along with hand grenade-style explosives, nails and duct tape, Gualtieri said.
But officers — aided by the FBI — could not find any social media history for the 22-year-old suspect, who also had no criminal record.
“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,” Gualtieri told the press conference.
“There’s absolutely nothing out there,” he said of his social media presence, calling it “most unusual.”
“Smith refused to give any information, he refused to talk to deputies,” the sheriff said, suggesting that they “really have no idea as to what his political leanings are.”
However, Smith was described as “Antifa” and “Antifa/Anti gov/Extrem.” in affidavits, the Tampa Bay Times noted.
Florida Rep. Anthony Sabatini — who spoke at the rally — described Smith as a “leftist terrorist” who “was stopped moments after I spoke.”
In a follow-up tweet, he called him “an Antifa terrorist” who “attempted to blow up the rally I spoke at with a pipebomb.”
Gualtieri maintained that the suspect was “decked out” and “was prepared” to set off the bomb before “something thwarted him from doing it.”
“He was all dressed, he had his device, he had his plan,” he said. But “how was he gonna do it? I have no idea,” he said.
Smith was arrested on charges of making and possessing a destructive device and loitering. He remains in jail on a bond of $300,000. It’s unclear if he had retained an attorney who could comment on the charges.
The rally had been in support of Jeremy Brown, a member of the Oath Keepers and a former special forces troop who was pictured in tactical gear in the Capitol on Jan. 6 last year.
Federal agents who searched Brown’s home found a sawed-off shotgun, short-barrel rifle, hand grenades and more than 8,000 rounds of ammunition, the Tampa Bay Times said.
However, supporters insist that he is a political prisoner, the paper said.
With Post wires