A heavily armed Richardson man who allegedly threatened two members of Congress and boasted online of storming the U.S. Capitol building will remain in federal custody until trial.
A prosecutor called Garret Miller a “domestic terrorist” at his detention hearing on Monday during which new details of the case emerged.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Magliolo said he was particularly concerned about Miller’s racially charged threats on social media about wanting to hang a Black Capitol police officer with a rope.
Miller, 34, believed the officer had fatally shot a female rioter inside the Capitol building and became obsessed with learning his identity, wanting him to be executed on TV, Magliolo said.
“He’s a prize to be taken,” Miller allegedly wrote. “He will swing.”
Miller, who was arrested Jan. 20, also called for the assassination of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democratic representative from New York, the FBI said. And he threatened Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., on Instagram, saying “we are coming for you,” according to Christopher Ford, an FBI agent.
Miller, a college graduate who lost his factory job around Thanksgiving, had a Ford van outfitted with a bed and containing ammunition, rope, a crossbow and several firearms, including an assault rifle, according to testimony.
He became “fixated” on the death of Ashley Babbitt during the Jan. 6 riot in Washington, D.C., that he took part in and wanted revenge, the FBI says. Babbitt was shot and killed while trying to climb through a broken window on a door leading to the Speaker’s Lobby of the Capitol.
“He fired the first shot,” Miller allegedly wrote about the officer. “What’s his name? That’s all that matters.”
U.S. Magistrate Judge Rebecca Rutherford said a recent jail phone call played in court between Miller and his parents indicted that he didn’t think he did anything wrong.
“You were hunting a Capitol Police officer,” she said. “I don’t see any remorse.”
Miller’s defense attorney, Clint Broden, described his client as someone uninterested in politics who became radicalized by former President Donald Trump and his claims of a stolen election.
“He’s been sitting at home,” Broden said about his client. “He feels like a big man behind that computer.”
The charges against Miller include: knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted buildings or grounds without lawful authority; violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds; obstructing or impeding any official proceeding; certain acts during civil disorder; and making threats.
He is at least the sixth North Texan to be arrested for activities related to the violent D.C. uprising and riot.
A ballistic vest, rope and assault rifle were found in his home, the FBI said.
“He is exceedingly dangerous. Please, please detain this man,” Magliolo told the judge.
Miller will eventually be transported to Washington, D.C., where his trial will take place.
Ford, the FBI agent, said Miller had attended a Trump rally in Washington in November during which he wrote that he was “clearing out Antifa scum.”
Miller repeatedly referred to the riot earlier this month as “beautiful” in his social media posts and was eventually suspended by Twitter and Facebook, Ford said. Miller called Babbitt’s killing the first shot in a civil war and said he planned to return to D.C., the agent said. He also wrote that he probably ought to prepare a will, Ford testified.
Miller posted a photo of a rope tied into a noose that he indicated was for the officer who shot Babbitt, the agent said. The defendant also expressed support for the shootings by police of “lethally dangerous Blacks,” according to testimony.
“I think we will start assassinating,” Miller wrote.
Broden said that while his clients’ online comments were “repulsive,” there was no evidence he harmed anyone or acted violently during the Capitol siege.
He said Miller believed he was following Trump’s instructions and that the former president led him to believe the election was stolen. What Trump said “got to him,” Broden said, and he said Miller now feels sorry for his actions.
The former high school wrestler and Eagle Scout understands that Joe Biden is the new U.S. president, Broden said.
Jason Miller, a high school math teacher, told the judge he began noticing a change in his younger brother over the summer and said that he was becoming sucked into the “cult” of Trump by the “feedback loop” on social media. When he lost his job, Garret became more obsessed and radicalized, Jason Miller said in his testimony.
“I think he felt he was part of something larger,” he said. “He believed in the cause.”
Garret, he said, ignored his advice about staying away from Washington on Jan. 6. He added that his brother started acting more normal after being banned by social media.
But Magliolo noted that when police arrested Miller at his home five days ago, he was wearing a pro-Trump shirt that said “Stop the Steal” and “I was there.”
“He couldn’t have been prouder,” Magliolo said.
He said Miller’s actions weren’t just talk. He acted on them and had access to a “rolling armory” with plenty of ammunition. Magliolo also said the government is continuing its investigation into Miller for possible obstruction of justice.
Selfies and video
The FBI learned about Miller’s posts on Twitter and Facebook two days after the riot. They included a video he posted on the evening of Jan. 6 from inside the Capitol Rotunda, authorities say.
The 14-second video “pans across a crowd” that was “waving pro-Trump and American flags,” a federal complaint says.
And video of the entrance to the Capitol Rotunda showed Miller in a crowd of people who pushed past Capitol Police officers, authorities say.
When some Facebook commentators tried to blame antifa for the riots, Miller allegedly responded: “You don’t think we should have stormed the capital [sic]?” He also wrote: “We where [sic] going in … No matter what … Decided before the trump speech … I charged the back gates myself with an anti masker,” he wrote according to the complaint.
When a commentator responded by asking Miller if he was a Christian, he responded: “Justice … Not murder … Read the commandment ... theres [sic] a difference,” according to the complaint.
At least five other North Texans also face charges in connection with the insurrection: Larry Rendall Brock Jr. of Grapevine, Guy Wesley Reffitt of Wylie, Jennifer “Jenna” Leigh Ryan of Carrollton, Troy Anthony Smocks of Dallas and Nolan Bernard Cooke, 22, of Fannin County.