Supporter of Proud Boys With 1,000 Rifle Rounds Made Threats, U.S. Says
In online messages on the day of the Capitol riot, prosecutors said Eduard Florea threatened violence against the Rev. Raphael Warnock.
On Wednesday, after posts he posted on social media about the time of the Capitol riot raised alarms, according to prosecutors and court records, a Queens man who told federal agents that he wanted to join the far-right Proud Boys party was charged with a gun crime.
After a search of his house, the man, Eduard Florea, was arrested late Tuesday after an arsenal of over 1,000 rounds of rifle ammunition, two dozen shotgun rounds, 75 military-style combat knives, two hatchets and two swords emerged, prosecutors said. No gun was discovered.
Mr. Florea, a 40-year-old software developer, was arrested in the midst of an intensifying national manhunt for those who broke into the United States. Last week's Capitol, as part of a violent rampage by President Trump backers who tried to reverse the election results.
While Mr. Florea was not one of the many persons being pursued for engaging in the riot, law enforcement authorities found him to be sufficiently dangerous to arrive at his home in an armoured vehicle to arrest him. The vehicle was identified as a "military tank" by his lawyer, taking issue with the approach.
The complaint says, among the remarks that caused alarm to the authorities and prompted the search of his home, was one in which Mr. Florea seemed to threaten Rev. Raphael Warnock, Georgia's Democrat, around the time Mr. Warnock was proclaimed the winner of a U.S. Seat in the Senate.
Approximately 1 a.m. On Jan. 6, when posting on the social media website Parler under the name "LoneWolfWar" in a community thread about Mr. Warnock, the complaint notes that Mr. Florea wrote that "dead men can not pass laws," with an obscenity added for emphasis.
"Mr. Florea wrote of getting three cars of "armed patriots" in a "caravan" bound for Washington later that day, also on Parler, the complaint says. As the Capitol riot unfolded, he wrote that the time for peace and civility had ended and that "we are target-rich here in New York."
"I will fight so that God will help me," he said.
At a bail hearing held remotely in the Federal District Court in Brooklyn, Mr. Florea's lawyer found out that the F.B.I. had assumed that her client had no vehicle and had not gone to Washington, despite his online bravado.
Nonetheless, according to prosecutors and the lawsuit, the tenor of his social media statements was ominous enough to raise the attention of the authorities, especially when matched with his status as a felon.
A federal prosecutor said at the hearing on Wednesday in 2014, Mr. Florea was found guilty of unlawful weapons possession after a search of the Staten Island home where he resided turned up a cache that included a semi-automatic shotgun and an AR-15 assault rifle.
Mr. Florea acquired the weapons legally outside New York City, but his lawyer, Mia Eisner-Grynberg, said at the trial that he was not supposed to have them inside the five boroughs. As a consequence of the conviction, he served a year in prison, she said.
Mr. Florea is also federally charged with being a felon with ammunition in possession. He faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted, prosecutors said.
Questioned by F.B.I. agents on Tuesday after he was taken into custody, Mr. Florea said he supported the Proud Boys, a far-right movement that embraced aggression and Mr. Trump, and applied to join the ranks of the party, a federal prosecutor said at the bail hearing.
He told the agents that in December he had gone to Washington with members of Proud Boys and had vandalized a church there, but was not yet a member of the community because, the prosecutor said, he had not attended the requisite number of meetings.
Francisco Navarro, the lawyer, said, "This is not just rhetoric," arguing against granting Mr. Florea bail. "This is action-backed rhetoric."
"Out of his desire to move to D.C. With suspects, in the current political climate, the government assumes the defendant is especially dangerous, Mr. Navarro added.
Ms. Eisner-Grynberg, the lawyer for Mr. Florea, assured the judge that her client did not condone the "behavior" that happened last Wednesday at the Capitol.
"Mr. Navarro replied, "You can't denounce what happened at the Capitol and hang out with the Proud Boys.
Ms. Eisner-Grynberg claimed that since he was not charged with making threats online, Mr. Florea should be released from prison and that many of the claims he made were false. She also said the "rhetoric on all sides was extremely high" on the day of the riot.
Magistrate, U.S. Judge Sanket Bulsara, the magistrate, forcefully dismissed that claim.
"Judge Bulsara said, "This is not mere blather. "And, frankly, I think making that suggestion is profoundly wrong."
The judge, who sided with the government, refused Mr. Florea's bail.
Mr. Navarro also quoted a 2014 news report in reasoning against freeing Mr. Florea, which cited a criminal complaint describing how Mr. Florea had choked his wife until she almost lost consciousness while carrying their baby daughter and then tried to kill them both with a knife.
Ms. Eisner-Grynberg claimed that she had denied those charges. She also said that Mr. Florea and his wife, who now have two children, had reconciled after a lot of therapy and that the wife had no reservations about him being with her at home.