TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – The latest Florida defendant in the Jan. 6 insurrection is a retired Green Beret who spent 20 years in the military and ran for the Republican nomination in 2020 for the Congressional seat currently held by Kathy Castor.
Forty-seven-year-old Jeremy Brown was also featured in an Army Special Forces recruiting poster several years ago, but he now faces federal charges for forcing his way into the U.S. Capital to disrupt the validation of the presidential election.
Brown is charged with entering a restricted area and disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building. He also faces a federal firearms charge for possession of unregistered firearms – two grenades, a short-barrel rifle and a sawed-off shotgun – allegedly found in his Tampa home after a search on Sept. 30.
A local veteran who asked not to be identified, said he was one of Brown’s good friends shed some light on why the fellow veteran may have gotten involved with the Oath Keepers and the January assault.
“I want to stop short of calling him a radicalized guy,” he said. “He’s mad at the government and feels like a lot of Americans, that freedom is diminishing.”
Investigtors say five deaths are connected to the assault, and several others were injured including 138 Capitol Police Officers.
Brown is the 69th Floridian arrested in connection with the insurrection. That’s about 10 percent of the 635 total arrests, according to stats compiled by George Washington University (GWU).
As many as 2,500 are suspected of breaching the Capitol.
Jon Lewis, a Research Fellow at the GWU Program on Extremism, said Florida’s number one ranking in total arrests could change as more people are taken into custody. He said at this point, there could be another 1,500 to 2,000 additional suspects.
“Cells of Proud Boys and Oath Keepers have fed the high number of cases involving Floridians”, Lewis said.
Lewis suspects the potential impact on the public in a state that is home to these cells would involve harassment through social media, flyers, false police reports and protests.
“That could involve anyone who disagrees with their intended world view here,” Lewis said. “One step below what we think of as violent extremism.”
In an interview earlier this year Brown said he was approached by the FBI in December and asked to infiltrate the Oath Keepers. Brown also has criticized the agency as the federal bureau of intimidation
Eight On Your Side reached out to Brown through his girlfriend, but he has not responded.
His friend said he hopes Brown is treated fairly.
“This guy was in a recruiting poster. He is one of the most highly decorated soldiers out there,” he said. “I don’t want to convict him in the court of public opinion.
The Oath Keepers have not responded to a number of requests for comment sent via email.