A New York City man charged with making online threats to kill members of Congress after the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol has been found guilty and now faces up to 10 years in jail.
The jury took about three hours to deliberate in the case of Brendan Hunt, who acknowledged that he had written the online statements but dismissed them as “blather” produced under the influence of marijuana and alcohol.
He testified that that he never believed the posts would be taken seriously.
“I was really just letting off steam,” Hunt said, according to The Associated Press. “It was really more online blather than anything else.”
However, jurors concluded that Hunt’s posts — including a video Hunt posted online just two days after the events at the Capitol — amounted to genuine threats.
Hunt was arrested Jan. 19 as part of the FBI’s sweeping investigation of the assault on the U.S. Capitol. Although he was not present at the Capitol riot, his posts to social media caught the attention of federal investigators.
In a criminal complaint filed Jan. 18, the FBI said Hunt, a part-time actor and filmmaker and full-time employee of the New York State Office of Court Administration, appeared online under the alias “X-Ray Ultra,” posting far-right incendiary material.
The FBI said Hunt made a series of posts between Dec. 6, 2020, and Jan. 12, 2021, “in which he threatened, or incited others, to murder members of Congress.”
On Dec. 6 he allegedly wrote on Facebook: “Trump, we want actual revenge on democrats. Meaning, we want you to hold a public execution of pelosi aoc schumer etc. And if you dont do it, the citizenry will. We’re not voting in another rigged election. Start up the firing squads, mow down these commies, and lets take america back!”
The abbreviated references appear to be to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer.
The FBI said two days after the Capitol riot, Hunt posted a video of the assault titled “KILL YOUR SENATORS.” In a rambling narration he called on people to show up at the “so-called” inauguration of Joe Biden with guns to “put some bullets in their f****** heads.”
Hunt, who pleaded not guilty, chose to take the stand in his own defense. Under questioning by his lawyer he said, “I just feel terrible about how I expressed myself,” according to the AP. He insisted that racist and antisemitic statements cited by prosecutors did not represent his views.