A Trump-supporting 69-year-old grandmother has reportedly outed her grandson after seeing him allegedly throw an explosive device on Tuesday night at the Mark O. Hatfield Federal Courthouse in Portland.
Karla Fox told the New York Post that she recognized her grandson, 18-year-old Gabriel Agard-Berryhill, because of the vest that he was wearing, which she claims she bought for him.
On Tuesday, “in the hours after the IED attack, social-media users analyzed videos showing a slim male, wearing a distinctive olive vest with the word ‘ICONS’ printed on it, throwing something over the fence at the Mark O. Hatfield Courthouse,” the New York Post reported. “Seconds later, a large explosion erupts, covering the front door in flames. The man picks up something off the ground and sprints off-camera.”
Fox told the New York Post, “I bought the vest for him after he found one online after getting hit with rubber bullets the night before at the protest.”
The New York Post said that in a text message exchange with Agard-Berryhill on Thursday, the suspect said, “The device I’ve been accused of allegedly throwing was allegedly given to me by an unknown protestor with full face coverings. I was allegedly told that it was a strobe firework that wouldn’t damage the building or harm anyone around it.”
Later that same night, Agard-Berryhill reportedly told his probation officer that he wanted to turn himself in. Fox said that her grandson is on probation for an alleged felony conviction stemming from when he was a minor.
The Department of Justice announced on Friday night that Agard-Berryhill had been charged with “using fire to maliciously damage the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse in downtown Portland on July 28, 2020.”
“No legitimate protest message is advanced by throwing a large explosive device against a government building. Mr. Agard-Berryhill’s actions could have gravely injured law enforcement officers positioned near the courthouse, other protesters standing nearby, or himself,” U.S. Attorney Billy Williams said. “I applaud the ATF agents and U.S. Marshals Service deputies who worked quickly to identify Mr. Agard-Berryhill before he had an opportunity to hurt others.”
Fox posted a review on a clothing website of the vest she purchased for her grandson, which was mentioned in the DOJ’s statement, saying, “I got this for my grandson who’s a protester downtown, he uses it every night and says it does the job.”
In a statement, the DOJ wrote:
According to court documents, at approximately 11:50pm on July 28, 2020, security cameras at the Hatfield Federal Courthouse captured footage of a large incendiary object enter the building’s portico area and land near plywood sheeting affixed to the building’s façade. A few seconds later, the object exploded, igniting a fire near the building’s main entrance. Federal law enforcement personnel collected various items near the site of the explosion and sent them to a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) laboratory for further analysis.
ATF investigators reviewed social media posts from the night of the explosion and located videos of the incendiary object being thrown. The individual depicted throwing the object, later identified to be Agard-Berryhill, was a young, Caucasian male wearing a green colored vest, camouflage pants, and a mask. Investigators observed the person in other protest-related videos posted online wearing the same vest and attempting to hold a shield in front of a naked woman.
Investigators also found a post on Twitter depicting a product review for the vest. The review included a photo of a person wearing the vest who matched the description of the person seen throwing the explosive device. The review states “I got this [vest] for my grandson who’s a protestor [sic] downtown, he uses it every night and says its [sic] does the job.” Investigators later found the same photo on a Facebook page and, using law enforcement databases, were able to positively identify Agard-Berryhill.
Fox says that she believed everything her grandson told her when he claimed that he was peacefully protesting during the riots.
“I believed all his stories,” Fox said. “He said he was just hanging out at Riot Ribs [an anarchist food co-op] and doing peaceful things.”
“I don’t condone any of this,” Fox added. “I am amazed at all of these events.”
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