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Felony weapons charges unsealed against man arrested near Obama’s house

A Jan. 6 defendant who had been arrested with guns and ammunition in his van near former president Barack Obama’s house faces two felony weapons charges in addition to the misdemeanor and trespassing counts brought against him last month, court records show.

Taylor Taranto, a defendant in the riot at the U.S. Capitol, was charged with carrying a pistol without a license and possessing a large-capacity ammunition feeding device, court records made public Friday show. The felony charges come on top of four misdemeanor counts of trespassing, disorderly conduct at the Capitol riot and parading in the Capitol. Officials brought those charges against Taranto, 37, last month when he was in Obama’s Kalorama neighborhood hours after former president Donald Trump shared the address on social media.

The Justice Department said in a Friday news release that Taranto was captured on video during the Capitol riot standing at the entrance to the Speaker’s Lobby. While at the entrance, another rioter — Ashli Babbitt — attempted to jump through a glass window and was shot by a Capitol police officer, officials said. The government alleged that in response to the shooting, Taranto and other rioters were directed to leave the building. As they were exiting, Taranto and multiple other rioters, including David Walls-Kaufman, scuffled with police officers, authorities said.

Officials said they later found a video posted online depicting Taranto during the riot. The video came with a caption that said: “This is me ‘stormin’ the capitol’ lol I’m only sharing this so someone will report me to the feds and we can get this party rolling!”

Authorities said Taranto was living out of his van parked across the street from the D.C. jail after coming earlier this year to take up the public offer from House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to show Capitol security video to Jan. 6 defendants. Though the FBI had been monitoring Taranto’s online activities for some time, the government only obtained a warrant regarding his involvement in the Capitol riot on June 29, one day after Taranto hosted a live stream in which he said he was driving his van and intended to blow it up at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, a federal facility about 15 miles north of D.C.

Taranto also made “ominous comments referencing Speaker McCarthy,” prosecutors said, including: “Coming at you, McCarthy. Can’t stop what’s coming.”

Law enforcement conducted an “all-hands-on-deck” search for Taranto’s black 2000 Chevrolet van, but they did not locate him before Taranto began another live stream near Obama’s house that same day, prosecutors said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Allison K. Ethen said Taranto recorded himself saying he was looking for “entrance points” and “tunnels underneath their houses,” referring to Obama’s and “the Podestas’ house” — an apparent reference to Democratic lobbyist Tony Podesta, who recently listed a home nearby for sale. Taranto was pursued by Secret Service agents and arrested. A search of his parked van nearby turned up two 9mm handguns, nearly 600 rounds of ammunition and a machete, court records show.

Assistant Federal Public Defender Katie Guevara said what the government alleged as “YouTube and Telegram threats” against Obama were mere “glib references to conspiracy theories.” Guevara reminded the court that Taranto went to Obama’s house after Trump put the address on Truth Social and didn’t seek the information out on his own.

The new charges connected to the events in late June come after Taranto was denied bail Wednesday by a federal judge who found that the potential danger he posed to the public was grounds to keep him detained. He remains in the D.C. jail.

This post appeared first on The Washington Post

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