Politics

Roseberry relative warned authorities of possible violence in DC a day before Capitol Hill bomb threat

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Key Points
  • Floyd Ray Roseberry was ordered detained on federal charges Friday, a day after he claimed to have a bomb in his truck parked at the Library of Congress. He's being held without bail pending a medical evaluation.
  • A court filing said a relative had warned North Carolina law enforcement Wednesday that Roseberry recently expressed antigovernment views and planned to go to Washington or Virginia to conduct acts of violence.
  • Buildings including the Supreme Court, the Cannon House Office Building and the offices of the Republican National Committee were evacuated during the threat.
A man, identified by police as Floyd Ray Roseberry, who claims to be sitting in his truck with explosives, speaks during a Facebook livestream in a still image from video taken in Washington, August 19, 2021.
Social Media via Reuters

The North Carolina man whose claim of having a bomb in his truck parked on Capitol Hill led to evacuations of the Supreme Court and other buildings was charged Friday with threatening to use a weapon of mass destruction and attempted use of an explosive device.

The man, Floyd Ray Roseberry, was also ordered detained without bail at a hearing in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., pending a medical screening, a day after he ranted on a Facebook livestream that the "revolution starts today" while threatening to ignite explosives.

Later Friday, a court filing revealed that a relative of Roseberry's had warned North Carolina law enforcement authorities on Wednesday — a day before the bomb threat — that Roseberry recently expressed antigovernment views and planned to travel to Washington or Virginia to conduct acts of violence.

The same filing contained a photo of Roseberry in his truck holding a can that later was found to contain powder of unknown origin.

Magistrate Judge Zia Faruqui ordered the medical evaluation after Roseberry said it would be difficult for him to understand the proceedings because he has been denied medications for his blood pressure and "my mind medicine" since surrendering to police on Thursday.

"My memory isn't that well, sir," Roseberry said during the remote appearance via audio linkup.

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Bomb threat suspect's family says he has a history of mental problems

"We don't have to see each other eye to eye," Roseberry said at one point, referring to the lack of physical presence or video. "I can tell in your voice you're a good man ... I'm willing to do whatever's asked."

Roseberry, who said he is 51 years old despite authorities saying he is 49, was appointed a federal public defender by Faruqui.

He is next due in court on Wednesday. Roseberry faces a maximum possible sentence of life in prison if convicted on the weapon of mass destruction charge.

Prosecutors said they will ask Faruqui to detain him without bail pending trial.

After the hearing, the newly unsealed criminal complaint against Roseberry revealed that police saw him on Thursday holding an old, rusted can while sitting in his truck parked on the sidewalk outside the Library of Congress.

There were approximately 1 to 2 inches "of an unknown powder in the bottom of" the can, and "a fabricated trigger was attached to the top of the can," an affidavit attached to the complaint said.

"The can was sent to an FBI laboratory for further examination," the affidavit said.

That affidavit also said that a local law enforcement official in Cleveland County, North Carolina, had contacted the FBI on Thursday "to report that the official recognized Roseberry as the subject of a report received the previous day, on August 18, 2021, by a person (W-1) related to Roseberry."

"W-1 had reported their concern that Roseberry had recently expressed anti-government views and an intent to travel to Virginia or Washington, D.C. to conduct acts of violence," the affidavit said. "W-1 also reported that Roseberry had stated that 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 actions Thursday led to the evacuation of buildings including the Supreme Court, the Library of Congress, the Cannon House Office Building and the offices of the Republican National Committee.

Roseberry parked a pickup truck on a sidewalk outside the library Thursday morning.

He then told cops he had a bomb inside, prompting an hourslong standoff that ended with him surrendering peacefully.

Floyd Ray Roseberry sits in his pickup truck in a standoff with Capitol Police outside the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. on Aug. 19th, 2021
Photo: Sydney Bobb

Before giving up, the Grover, North Carolina, man posted videos on Facebook from his truck, speaking directly to President Joe Biden, whose resignation he demanded as he called for a revolution.

He also called for U.S. airstrikes on the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Roseberry claimed on a video that he had a keg of gunpowder and more than two pounds of the explosive tannerite in the truck. He also suggested there were four other bombs in the D.C. area.

Congress was in recess during the standoff, and the Supreme Court is not in session. There were fewer people working in government buildings on Capitol Hill as a result.

But the bomb threat and big police response to it evoked memories of the Jan. 6 invasion of the U.S. Capitol by supporters of then-President Donald Trump. That riot disrupted a joint session of Congress that was confirming the Electoral College victory of Biden.