Man arrested for bringing ‘explosive’ to political rally outside Pinellas Co. courthouse, sheriff says

Pinellas County

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri to hold press conference at 4 p.m.

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – A Oldsmar man has been arrested for allegedly bringing a “destructive device” to a political rally outside the county courthouse on Jan. 6.

According to the sheriff’s office, Garrett James Smith, whose 22nd birthday happened to be Jan. 6 was seen running away from the direction of an “active political lawful assembly” gathered in the Pinellas County Courthouse parking lot.

The political lawful assembly was being held in support of Jeremy Brown, who is facing federal charges for forcing his way into the U.S. Capitol to disrupt the validation of the presidential election. Protesters argue Brown is being held as a “political prisoner”.

During Thursday’s event, deputies noticed a man wearing all black, with a black face covering and a black backpack, running away from the courthouse gathering around 7:30 p.m. 

After arresting Smith, they searched his backpack, where they found a black helmet and a list of items referred to as a Direct action list or (DACK) according to the sheriff.

The list included directions on the type of clothing Smith should wear, as well as what pieces of armor and gear; including a gas mask and air filters, he should carry.

They also found a pipe-style explosive device. 

Smith’s car was found nearby by deputies along with M-80 fireworks. A search of Smith’s home also led to the discovery of multiple hand grenade-type explosives as well as nails.

Sheriff Gualtieri says Smith is not cooperating with deputies at this time and do not know if he was supportive or critical of the protesters at the courthouse.

Sheriff Gualtieri referred to Smith as a “sleeper” with no known social media or past history of crimes.

“We wanna still try to figure out what this guy’s motivation was, what side was he on in this case,” Gualtieri said.

Smith faces three charges of making, possessing, and/or discharging a destructive device, and one count of loitering and prowling.  He is being held on a $300,000 bond.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this story contained a video from an unrelated rally. That video has since been removed.

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