For years, Brendan Hunt had posted wild conspiracy theories on social media platforms and his personal web site, asserting, amongst different issues, that the rock star Kurt Cobain was murdered and that the Sandy Hook massacre was a hoax.
A decade in the past, he took half within the Occupy Wall Road protests in opposition to revenue inequality. Extra lately, he was a fervent supporter of President Trump, posting a number of movies in assist of Mr. Trump’s false claims that the election had been rigged in opposition to him by way of vote fraud.
On Tuesday, it turned clear that Mr. Hunt’s on-line statements had gotten the authorities’ consideration. He was arrested on federal expenses of creating demise threats in opposition to outstanding Democratic politicians, together with Senator Chuck Schumer, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Consultant Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Not solely did Mr. Hunt, 37, an assistant analyst for New York’s court docket system, name final month for the “public execution” of Democratic leaders, he additionally urged Mr. Trump’s supporters to bloodbath members of Congress earlier than Inauguration Day, in line with a prison criticism.
He was arrested at his residence in Ridgewood, Queens, early Tuesday. He faces as much as 10 years in jail if convicted.
For the reason that Capitol riot on Jan. 6, many individuals with histories of posting vitriolic threats in opposition to public figures with relative impunity have come below larger scrutiny from the federal authorities.
Though Mr. Hunt didn’t take part in the attack on the Capitol, his arrest underscored the scope of the federal authorities’s crackdown on social media feedback that incite violence. A number of individuals who posted on social media during the Jan. 6 riot are among the many dozens who’ve been charged by federal authorities with participating within the violent rampage.
Final week, the authorities arrested one other Queens man, Eduard Florea, who was not in Washington on Jan. 6 however who posted threatening messages on the social community Parler. Among the many messages that brought on concern was one wherein he urged that the Rev. Ralph Warnock of Georgia, who was lately elected to the U.S. Senate, ought to be killed.
Mr. Florea, who had a earlier weapons conviction, was charged with illegally possessing ammunition after the authorities discovered 1000’s of rounds of rifle ammunition and a stockpile of knives at this residence in Center Village, Queens.
Mr. Hunt’s threats included one posted on Fb on Dec. 6 wherein he mentioned that Mr. Trump’s supporters “need precise revenge on democrats” and urged the president to execute Mr. Schumer, Ms. Pelosi and Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, in line with the criticism.
“And in the event you dont do it, the citizenry will,” Mr. Hunt wrote, the criticism says. “We’re not voting in one other rigged election. Begin up the firing squads, mow down these commies, and lets take america again!”
In a second publish, he mentioned the three Democrats have been the form of “excessive worth targets” that Mr. Trump’s supporters ought to assault. “They actually must be put down,” he wrote, in line with the criticism. “These commies will see demise earlier than they see us give up!”
Mr. Hunt made his first look in Federal District Court docket in Brooklyn on Tuesday at a listening to carried out remotely.
“These threats could be grave below any circumstances, however they’re much more so within the risky surroundings we discover ourselves in at the moment main as much as the inauguration,” David Kessler, a federal prosecutor, mentioned on the listening to.
Arguing for Mr. Hunt to be launched on bail, Mr. Hunt’s lawyer, Leticia Olivera, mentioned he didn’t have a prison file, was not a member of a militia or paramilitary group and didn’t plan on harming federal officers in Washington.
“The allegations within the criticism don’t recommend something aside from a plan to make outlandish posts on-line from inside his residence,” Ms. Olivera mentioned.
The federal Justice of the Peace choose listening to the matter, Ramon Reyes Jr., ordered that Mr. Hunt be held with out bail till trial.
Lucian Chalfen, a spokesman for the state court docket system, mentioned Mr. Hunt had been suspended with out pay from his $57,800-a-year place as an assistant court docket analyst within the Lawyer Registration Unit.
Earlier than retiring, Mr. Hunt’s father was a household court docket choose in Queens, Mr. Chalfen mentioned. Mr. Hunt is the second particular person with ties to the state judiciary to be arrested this month. Aaron Mostofsky, whose father is a judge in Brooklyn, was charged this month with participating within the Capitol riot.
Mr. Hunt has dabbled in performing and filmmaking and has typically used the alias X-ray Extremely on social media, the authorities mentioned. An internet site for “X-ray Extremely Studios” contains images of Mr. Hunt and hyperlinks to his many social media accounts.
Two days after the Washington riot, Mr. Hunt posted an 88-second video titled “KILL YOUR SENATORS” on BitChute, a video-sharing platform, the criticism says. Within the video, he spoke on to the digital camera.
“We have to return to the U.S. Capitol when all the Senators and numerous the Representatives are again there,” he mentioned, in line with the criticism. “And this time we’ve to indicate up with our weapons. And we have to slaughter these” folks, utilizing an expletive for emphasis.
“If anyone has a gun, give me it, I’ll go there myself and shoot them and kill them,” he mentioned, in line with the criticism.
The video was not out there on X-ray Extremely’s BitChute channel on Tuesday, however a number of different movies in regards to the Capitol riot and anti-Semitic conspiracy theories have been.
Mr. Hunt additionally posted threats on Parler, which gained popularity among right-wing users and which went darkish after Amazon shut off its service due to violent content material, the criticism says.
A Parler account with Mr. Hunt’s title and the consumer title “@xrayultra” included the message “lets go, jan 20, convey your weapons #millionmilitiamarch,” the criticism says.
Mr. Hunt’s YouTube channel lists a number of movies with the title “STOP THE STEAL = ELECTION 2020.” The movies have thumbnail illustrations that depict Mr. Trump as a king, because the Marvel Comics villain Thanos and because the film character Rambo.