A U.S. Navy veteran, drifter as of late, and alleged fugitive with ties to the failed and violent Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol was arrested by police in Washington, D.C., after running toward the home of former U.S. president Barack Obama, authorities told Law&Crime.
In an email, the Metropolitan Police Department described Taylor Taranto, 37, as a man with “no fixed address.” He was arrested Thursday afternoon on a fugitive from justice warrant near the Obama family’s capital-area home on Kalorama Road in the Northwest neighborhood.
Authorities also appear to have had concerns that a bomb or explosive attack was in the works.
“Arresting officers requested MPD’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Team to perform a vehicle sweep of the individual’s van near the location of the arrest,” the MPD said. “There is no active threat to the community, and this incident remains under investigation.”
In August 2021, Taranto was identified by crowd-sourced investigators operating under the “Sedition Hunters” label. One similar and/or associated group known as the “Deep State Dogs” said they pored over “hours of Capitol attack videos” to identify the defendant and a fellow Jan. 6 rioter, D.C.-based chiropractor David Kaufman.
Taranto and Kaufman were named in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by Erin Smith, whose husband, Jeffrey Smith, killed himself with his MPD service weapon in the days after the attack on the Capitol.
Several images of Taranto at the U.S. Capitol Complex were submitted as an exhibit to the lawsuit.
“Kaufman was part of the insurrectionist mob inside the US Capitol and was being escorted out of the building by MPD officers,” the federal lawsuit says. “Co-Defendant Taranto handed a cane or crowbar (or similar object) to Kaufman. Kaufman, in turn, violently swung the cane and struck Officer Smith in the face/head.”
Last June, Kaufman was arrested and charged with entering and remaining in a restricted building, disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building, disorderly conduct in a Capitol building and parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building. He pleaded guilty to one such charge in September 2022 and was sentenced to 60 days behind bars earlier this month, according to NBC News.
Kaufman has not been charged with attacking Smith. Before Thursday, Taranto “repeatedly wondered” why he had not been arrested at all, according to NBC News. Those musings reportedly came in online videos posted to social media.
Law enforcement sources allegedly had Taranto in their sights because he had recently taken to posting threats against a public figure during livestreams, according to anonymous officials cited by CBS News. One such official said the location where the defendant was arrested – Obama’s neighborhood – was no accident.
Police reportedly believe Taranto lived in a van near the D.C. jail for the past few weeks. Inside that van, law enforcement allegedly found numerous weapons and the constituent materials needed to construct an explosive device similar to a Molotov cocktail, law enforcement sources told CBS News.
The defendant himself allegedly said, at some point, that he had explosives, but police ultimately did not find any.
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