A man in full black bloc behaving suspiciously near a right-wing rally outside the Pinellas County Courthouse in Florida on Jan. 6 was apprehended by deputies after he tried fleeing on foot. Garrett James Smith, 22, was arrested and found carrying an active pipe bomb, Antifa propaganda and a written document on what to bring for his direct action. He had recently returned from Portland, Ore.
"He was running fast, he was running away from something," Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said at a press conference on Friday. Bomb squad investigators from the F.B.I., Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office and the Tampa Police Deparment responded to the scene and determined the device was a "homemade M-type destructive device," according to the affidavit.
Smith was purportedly targeting dozens of the attendees of a rally protesting the treatment of Jan. 6 suspects on the one-year anniversary of the U.S. Capitol riot.
An executed search warrant of Smith's residence he shares with his parents in Oldsmar, Fla. revealed more explosives, tape and nails for use in grenades. Bomb squad investigators from the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office and the Tampa Police responded to the home and determined the devices were homemade IEDs.
A search of Smith's home he shares with his parents in Oldsmar, Fla. revealed more explosives, tape and nails for use in grenades. Smith’s “direct action” checklist included a drawing of an umbrella, a symbol adopted by Antifa militants for their frequent use of black umbrellas to shield one another from cameras while they commit acts of violence or vandalism. The helmet found in his backpack during his arrest had the Antifa “iron front” symbol painted on it.
Sheriff Gualtieri said that Smith is refusing to cooperate in the investigation. And although he stopped short of speculating on what possible motives Smith may have had and who he wanted to target, the arrest affidavit lists "ANTIFA" and anti-government violent extremism as aggravating factors in his arrest.
Smith has been charged with three counts of making, possessing or discharging a destructive device, in addition to a charge of loitering and prowling. He does not have a prior criminal history. His bail is set at over $300,000.