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Charges revealed against N.C. man at center of explosives threat near U.S. Capitol, federal affidavit details incident

Floyd Ray Roseberry was ordered to be held in jail pending a medical evaluation and a status hearing.
Published: Aug. 20, 2021 at 4:32 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 20, 2021 at 9:42 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND COUNTY, N.C. (WBTV) - Federal officials have announced the felony charges against a Cleveland County man at the center of a threat of explosives near the U.S. Capitol.

Floyd Ray Roseberry, 49, of Grover, N.C., made his first court appearance Friday afternoon following his arrest in Thursday’s incident in front of the Library of Congress, near the United States Capitol complex.

He appeared before the Honorable Magistrate Judge Zia M. Faruqui in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

Roseberry was ordered to be held in jail pending a medical evaluation and a status hearing set for Wednesday, Aug. 25, at 4 p.m. The judge also appointed Roseberry a public defender.

Roseberry is charged with felony threatening the use of a weapon of mass destruction and felony threatening by explosives.

The threatening the use of a weapon of mass destruction charge carries a statutory maximum of life in prison and potential financial penalties The threatening by explosives charge carries a statutory maximum of 10 years in prison and potential financial penalties.

According to a federal affidavit, on Thursday around 9:45 a.m., the FBI responded to assist U.S. Capitol Police with a bomb threat made by Roseberry. Roseberry had reportedly claimed to have a bomb and a detonator in his possession, according to the affidavit.

The affidavit continues to say Roseberry was located inside of a black Chevrolet pick-up truck with no license plates that was parked at First Street and Independence Avenue, Northeast, in Washington, D.C., adjacent to the Jefferson Building of the Library of Commerce.

A federal affidavit says Roseberry was located inside of a black Chevrolet pick-up truck with...
A federal affidavit says Roseberry was located inside of a black Chevrolet pick-up truck with no license plates that was parked at First Street and Independence Avenue, Northeast, in Washington, D.C., adjacent to the Jefferson Building of the Library of Commerce.(Federal Bureau of Investigation)

The federal affidavit continues, saying Roseberry broadcasted live video and audio through a Facebook account while he was inside the truck and that records provided by Facebook confirmed that Roseberry is the subscriber of the account.

During the course of Thursday’s events, the affidavit says a local law enforcement official in Cleveland County contacted the FBI to report that the official recognized Roseberry as the subject of a report received the previous day by a person related to Rosebrry.

According to the affidavit, that relative had reported their concern that Roseberry had recently expressed anti-government views and an intent to travel to Virginia or Washington, D.C. to conduct acts of violence. That same relative also reported that Roseberry had stated that he “ordered a trench coat to protect him from Taser and pepper ball guns and he would just tip his cowboy hat at the police,” the affidavit read.

Law enforcement obtained copies of the Facebook video broadcast by Roseberry on Thursday, during which he can be seen throwing U.S. dollar bills out of the truck and onto the street.

In the Facebook video, he can be heard stating numerous things.

Roseberry was threatening explosions, making anti-government threats and talking about what he believes are the ills of the country, including the U.S. position on Afghanistan, health care and the military. He said Democrats needed to step down, then also said he loved the president, Democrat Joe Biden. Facebook removed the videos a few hours after they were apparently filmed. Roseberry did not appear to have a specific demand for law enforcement other than to speak with Biden.

The affidavit says that around 10:21 a.m., Roseberry began communicating with law enforcement by writing messages on a small white dry erase board and placing it in the driver’s side window of the target vehicle while intermittently holding an unidentified device. The messages stated in part, “please don’t shoot the windows the vibe will explode the bomb,” “I have no control of it,” “decimals is what sets off not me,” and at approximately 11:21 a.m., “my name is Ray Roseberry.”

According to the affidavit, in video from Thursday morning, Roseberry was seen holding an old metal can that appeared to have been fashioned into an explosive device.

A federal affidavit says Roseberry was located inside of a black Chevrolet pick-up truck with...
A federal affidavit says Roseberry was located inside of a black Chevrolet pick-up truck with no license plates that was parked at First Street and Independence Avenue, Northeast, in Washington, D.C., adjacent to the Jefferson Building of the Library of Commerce.(Federal Bureau of Investigation)

Around 2:15 pm, Roseberry was taken into custody by law enforcement. In a post-arrest interview, Roseberry confirmed his identity.

After Roseberry’s arrest, the federal affidavit says the can that he was seen holding was recovered in the front seat of the truck. The can was old and rusted and had approximately one to two inches of an unknown powder in the bottom of it. A fabricated trigger was attached to the top of the can. The can was sent to an FBI laboratory for further examination.

Because of COVID-19, Roseberry did not physically appear before the judge on Friday. Instead, he dialed into the hearing by phone and was not seen on video.

Judge Faruqui asked Roseberry a series of questions to ensure he understood the court proceedings. In response to one question, Roseberry told the judge he had not had his blood pressure medication or his “mind” medication since he arrived in Washington D.C.

Roseberry said he did not know what day it was and he was not sure he could understand the hearings without his medication.

Judge Faruqui ordered a medical evaluation to determine whether Roseberry is competent before moving forward. The evaluation is expected to be complete on Monday or Tuesday. Roseberry will remain in federal custody. He is expected back in court on Wednesday, August 25 at 4:00 p.m.

Former FBI executive Chris Swecker says medical and mental evaluations are common in these types of cases.

“We saw that with John Hinkley in the Reagan shooting, and we saw it play out many times before in law enforcement scenarios like this. So, he will go through a mental evaluation, there was some indication that he was mentally disturbed. His wife mentioned that” Swecker said.

Judge Faruqui also appointed Roseberry a public defender.

Friday, local, state and federal authorities were seen around Roseberry’s Grover home on Blacksburg Road. Swecker says investigators will be looking for bombs, bomb-making materials, and other weaponry.

“Secondly, they’ll be looking for any evidence whatsoever for possible motives and if anyone else is involved in any other way,” Swecker said. “They want to know everything about him and his social network to see if there are any other dangers or threats.”

The Cleveland County Sheriff’s Office sent a statement Friday afternoon.

“The law enforcement agencies that are working to search and secure the home in Cleveland County, North Carolina, which is connected to the investigation in DC, have a critical and meticulous job. The safety of the officers and community are priority and a full-scale search could take an extended time and cause delays in areas of Earl NC. We will work as expeditiously as possible to resume normal traffic but again safety paramount. We thank you for your patience and will provide more information as it arises,” the statement read.

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