NY man found guilty of calling for ‘slaughter’ of members of Congress in wake of Capitol riot
WASHINGTON - After a weeklong trial, a New York man was found guilty and could face up to 10 years in prison for threatening to kill members of Congress in the wake of the pro-Trump Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.
According to a criminal complaint filed in January, Brendan Hunt, known as "X-Ray Ultra", published a video urging Trump supporters to murder U.S. officials two days after the insurrection on the U.S. Capitol. The video was titled: "Kill your senators. Slaughter them all."
As alleged in the complaint, "Hunt directly called for the assassination of members of Congress," posting a video to an Internet-based video sharing site in which he exhorted his viewers to violence, urging them that "[w]e need to go back to the U.S. Capitol when all of the Senators and a lot of the Representatives are back there, and this time we have to show up with our guns. And we need to slaughter these m-----f------."
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Hunt was arrested on Jan. 19.
According to the Associated Press, Hunt testified on Tuesday that his social media rants were harmless "rhetoric" — often put together while "smoking weed" and drinking beer — and would never be taken seriously.
"I was really just letting off steam," said Hunt, 37, of Queens. "It was really more online blather than anything else."
While Hunt was not at the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, the video was one in a series of statements by Hunt posted on social media since at least Dec. 6, 2020, in which he called for violence and ‘public execution’ against members of Congress," the complaint read.
According to the Associated Press, Hunt’s defense attorneys called the charges overblown and argued that there’s no proof that Hunt was a legitimate threat.
Meanwhile, prosecutors said Hunt faces up to 10 years in prison at his sentencing on June 22.
"With today’s verdict, the defendant is now a convicted felon, not for his repugnant, racist rants, but because he threatened to attack and kill members of Congress to prevent them from carrying out their constitutional duties, and that is a federal crime," Acting U.S. Attorney Mark Lesko said in a statement.
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The FBI is still seeking many rioters more than three months after violent extremists breached the U.S. Capitol and committed a litany of federal criminal acts.
"With the assistance of hundreds of thousands of tips from the American people, the FBI has arrested more than 300 individuals who took part in the Capitol riots. Of those, more than 65 were arrested for assaulting law enforcement officers," the FBI wrote in a press release in March.
"These individuals are seen on video committing egregious crimes against those who have devoted their lives to protecting the American people," said Steven M. D’Antuono, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office. "We know it can be a difficult decision to report information about family, friends, or coworkers, but it is the right thing to do, and the FBI continues to need your help to identify these suspects."
The Associated Press contributed to this report. This story was reported from Los Angeles.