PINELLAS COUNTY, FL – An Antifa extremist was arrested during the early morning hours of January 7th after authorities found the 22-year-old suspect running from the scene of a January 6 anniversary rally supporting one of the arrested defendants, with the suspect allegedly being in possession of multiple homemade explosives.
Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri identified the arrested suspect as Garrett James Smith, who was booked under charges of making and possessing a destructive device and loitering. Sheriff Gualtieri said during a press conference that Smith has not been cooperating with investigators and has not overtly articulated his political stances.
“Smith is what we call a sleeper,” the sheriff said, “and these are the most concerning individuals because there are no opportunities to intervene and thwart their criminal activity before they actually act.”
While the sheriff claimed that he couldn’t say with outright authority what Smith’s political ideologies lean, details contained within the police report and evidence obtained showcase that Smith is an Antifa extremist through-and-through.
Deputies had spotted Smith running eastbound away from the January 6 anniversary rally held outside the Pinellas County Jail, dressed in all black – known as black bloc in Antifa circles – with a balaclava covering his face and in possession of a backpack.
When deputies stopped him and searched his backpack, they reportedly found pipe bomb-style explosives accompanied with a piece of paper that had “direct action checklist” written on it.
For those not familiar with some of the Antifa lexicon, “direct action” is a term often used that serves as a dog whistle to commit destruction and violence during Antifa-led demonstrations or riots (which even liberal states like New Jersey have made reference to the term in official state documents back in 2020).
Smith’s “direct action checklist” purportedly included types of clothing, armor and gear to bring to the lawful rally, to include items such as a helmet and shaded goggles, a gas mask, duct tape and flammable rags.
Sheriff Gualtieri also revealed that inside of Smith’s backpack was a helmet that bore an insignia that had been seen at protests and riots in Portland, a.k.a. Antifa central, where Smith had apparently spent some time in the past.
Furthermore, in the arrest report of Smith, the detective noted “Antifa” and requested a high bail – which it was set at $300,000 – and additional notations of “Antifa/Anti gov/Extrem [sic]” were included on the suspect’s arrest report.
Deputies obtained a search warrant for Smith’s residence where they recovered another pipe bomb-style explosive, hand grenade-style explosives, nails, and duct tape.
Sheriff Gualtieri isn’t sure why Smith didn’t carry out the attack at the rally prior to his arrest, but suspects that the heavy police presence for both the rally and an unrelated traffic enforcement operation nearby could have spooked the suspect.
“Did that affect him and maybe a reason why he didn’t go across the street? I don’t know,” the sheriff commented.