The man who was arrested last week near former president Barack Obama’s Washington, DC home with a slew of weapons and ammunition had threatened to blow up a government building that houses a nuclear reactor the day before, prosecutors said.
Taylor Taranto, 37, who’s also facing charges over the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol riot, had been live streaming on his public YouTube Channel last Wednesday discussing his plans to destroy the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), federal prosecutors alleged in a court filing Wednesday.
“He made several statements indicating that he intended to blow up his vehicle at NIST, including a statement that he had a detonator, that he was on a ‘one way mission,’ and that the vehicle was self-driving so he would not have to be anywhere near it when it ‘went off,’” prosecutors said.
They noted that the NIST facility, located in Gaithersburg, Maryland within the Commerce Department’s headquarters, has a nuclear reactor in its 579-acre campus.
Taranto also filmed himself making “ominous” threats to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, prosecutors added.
In the video, Taranto could be heard “referencing Speaker McCarthy, saying, ‘Coming at you McCarthy. Can’t stop what’s coming. Nothing can stop what’s coming,’” according to the court filing.
The video quickly garnered the attention of the FBI, who had already been monitoring him due to his participation in the Capitol riot.
The next day, a federal judge signed a warrant for his arrest on the Jan. 6-related charges, with officials then finding Taranto streaming again in the vicinity of the Obama’s neighborhood.
“While walking, he made several concerning statements regarding the residences in the area, saying that he was looking for ‘entrance points,’ that he had ‘control’ of the block and ‘had them surrounded’ and that he was going to find a way to the ‘tunnels underneath their houses,’” prosecutors said.
Taranto was eventually arrested by Secret Service agents after a brief chase.
An FBI bomb squad and members of the Metropolitan Police Department investigating Taranto’s van found “hundreds of rounds of nine-millimeter ammunition and two firearms,” along with a machete and the ingredients to make Molotov cocktails, officials said. Another 18 guns registered in his name have yet to be recovered.
Prosecutors added that along with the alarming videos against the NIST and Obamas, Taranto also documented himself and a group entering a Maryland elementary school and using a projector in the gymnasium to play a film related to Jan. 6.
“He stated that he specifically chose the elementary school due to its proximity to Congressman [Jamie] Raskin’s home and that he is targeting Raskin because ‘he’s one of the guys that hates January 6 people, or more like Trump supporters, and it’s kind of like sending a shockwave through him because I did nothing wrong,’” the court filing states.
Officials said Taranto, of Washington State, had moved to DC two months ago and had been living in his van.
Prosecutors said he had been a constant presence at the DC jail where several Jan. 6 defendants are being held, protesting on their behalf.