Suspect in bizarre Capitol Hill bomb threat facing weapons of mass destruction charge

A man who claimed to have a bomb and drove his pickup truck onto the sidewalk in front of the Library of Congress, sparking an hourslong standoff, is facing a federal weapons of mass destruction charge and will undergo a competency evaluation ahead of his next court appearance.

Floyd Ray Roseberry, of Grover, North Carolina, appeared via phone during a virtual appearance before U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Zia Faruqui Friday afternoon, the day after the bizarre incident that drew a massive police presence to Capitol Hill.

Roseberry surrendered to authorities Thursday afternoon after a five-hour standoff during which he livestreamed himself on Facebook holding a large rusty can that he claimed would detonate if police fired on him. Capitol Police said they found possible bomb-making material but no bomb in Roseberry’s truck.

During the brief hearing Friday, Roseberry told the judge he had gone two days without his medication, which included blood pressure medication and what he referred to as “mind medicine,” and he said he wasn’t sure he could follow the proceedings. The judge ordered a competency evaluation and scheduled follow-up proceedings for 4 p.m. Aug. 25.

The judge also read the charges against Roseberry. They include threats or attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, which is punishable by life in prison, and use or attempted use of an explosive device, which is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

Roseberry has not entered a plea. The judge appointed David Bos, with the Office of the Federal Public Defender, to represent him.

Capitol Police listed Roseberry’s age as 49, but he told the judge he was 51.

An FBI affidavit filed in court laying out evidence against Roseberry makes several references to his Facebook livestream video, which apparently showed him throwing dollar bills out of the truck and asking passers-by to call the police.

“They need to clear that ‘cause I got a bomb in here,” Roseberry said, according to a transcript. “I don’t want nobody hurt. Yes sir, I don’t want nobody hurt.”

In another portion of the transcript, Roseberry said, “Clear the block, clear the block. Joe Biden, I’m not hurting nobody, but I think these flags need to go to half-staff brotha. I’m telling you, my windows pop, this bomb is gonna go, it’s made for decimals.”

The affidavit said the can was old and rusted and had a fabricated trigger on top. There was 1 to 2 inches of an unknown powder at the bottom of the can, which was taken the FBI lab for further analysis.

The affidavit also reveals that a local law enforcement official in Cleveland County, North Carolina, contacted the FBI after recognizing Roseberry in the media coverage.

That official said the day before the standoff, a person tipped off police to Roseberry, saying he was expressing antigovernment views and had expressed an intent to travel to Virginia or D.C. to conduct acts of violence, according to the affidavit.

On Thursday, Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger said authorities didn’t yet know Roseberry’s motive. He said they had no indication he acted with anyone else, and that they had learned from interviews with family members that Roseberry’s mother had recently died and that there were other unspecified “issues he was dealing with.”

The bomb threat Thursday led to a large police presence on Capitol Hill that included armored trucks, the bomb squad and teams of snipers on the grounds of the Capitol Complex with guns trained on Roseberry’s truck.

The House and Senate were not in session, but staffers and other Capitol Hill workers were evacuated from buildings Thursday morning, including some workers who were directed to use underground tunnels connecting Capitol Complex office buildings.

Police negotiated with Roseberry by writing messages on a whiteboard and even sent in a “robot” to deliver a phone in an attempt to communicate with him.

For part of the day Thursday, evacuation notices spilled over into a few blocks of the residential neighborhood directly east of the Capitol, before authorities finished clearing the scene and determined the area to be safe.

The bomb threat came a few months after a man rammed a Capitol Hill barricade, killing officer William Evans, and several months after the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol, when thousands of supporters of then-President Donald Trump stormed the building.

A day before the riot at the Capitol, pipe bombs were left at the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee and the Republican National Committee in Washington. No one has been arrested yet for placing the bombs.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Jack Moore

Jack Moore joined WTOP.com as a digital writer/editor in July 2016. Previous to his current role, he covered federal government management and technology as the news editor at Nextgov.com, part of Government Executive Media Group.

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