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Explosives found at Florida man's home after arrest at rally

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Posted at 1:29 PM, Jan 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-08 13:29:09-05

CLEARWATER, Fla. (AP) -- Authorities said they found homemade explosives, including hand-style grenades and a pipe explosive, along with nails and duct tape while searching the home of a Florida man arrested after he was spotted running away from a Jan. 6 anniversary rally.

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said Garrett Smith, 22, was near a political assembly supporting a jailed Oath Keeper who is charged with participating in the Capitol riot last year. When they searched his backpack, they found a pipe-style explosive device and a checklist detailing items to bring including armor, helmet, shaded goggles, a gas mask, duct tape and flammable rags.

Deputies said they also found a helmet with a logo on it that had been seen at other protests in cities such as Portland, where Smith had spent time.

But the sheriff stressed it was too early to say whether Smith was affiliated with any group. Deputies also obtained a search warrant for Smith's house, where the sheriff said they found another pipe explosive, along with hand grenade-style explosives, nails and duct tape.

Smith did not detonate or place the explosive device he made at Thursday night's rally held in the courthouse parking lot. Gualtieri said Smith has not been cooperative and doesn't know why he abandoned his plan or what his political beliefs are.

The sheriff's office is also working with the FBI on the case.

There were undercover detectives at the rally and a large law-enforcement presence at an unrelated incident nearby.

"Smith is what we call a sleeper, and these are the most concerning individuals because there are no opportunities to intervene and thwart their criminal activity before they actually act," Gualtieri told the Tampa Bay Times.

Smith was arrested on charges of making and possessing a destructive device and loitering. He remains in jail on a bond of $300,000. It's unclear if he had retained an attorney who could comment on the charges.