A New York City man accused of plotting a violent attack on the US Capitol last week had allegedly threatened to kill newly-elected Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock and had boasted about traveling to Washington D.C. with a caravan of ‘armed patriots’ on social media.
Eduard Florea, 40, was taken into custody on Tuesday after the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force descended on his home on Elliot Avenue and 76th Street in Middle Village, Queens.
He was seen surrendering to authorities in the middle of the residential street during the afternoon raid before being placed in an armored vehicle.
Florea, who is reported to have ties to white supremacist group the Proud Boys, appeared in Brooklyn Federal Court on Wednesday where he is facing felony weapons charges.
Prosecutors said federal law enforcement officers seized 1,000 hollow point rounds of ammunition during the raid as well as 75 military-style knives, two hatchets, and two swords, according to a criminal complaint.
Eduard Florea appears during a virtual hearing on weapons charges in a New York court in this January 13, 2021 courtroom sketch
Florea appears during a virtual hearing on weapons charges before Magistrate Judge Sanket Bulsara and Assistant U.S. Attorney Francisco Navarro
Eduard Florea, 40, was seen with his hands in the air after being confronted by feds on the residential street in Queens in broad daylight Tuesday
While Florea did not ultimately travel to the Capitol, prosecutors said he made verbal threats on the conservative social media platform Parler to carry out violence.
Federal prosecutors said they came across Florea’s Parler account – where he went by username ‘LoneWolfWar’ – that contained threatening statements regarding acts of violence and the use of firearms on and around January 6, the day of the violent siege.
In the early hours of last Wednesday, Florea had allegedly replied to one user’s post that read: ‘F**K RAPHAEL WARNOCK LOSER’, referring to the newly-elected US Senator who won the runoff elections in Georgia.
Florea left a comment in response saying: ‘Dead men can’t pass s**t laws’, according to the affidavit.
Federal prosecutors alleged Florea had made death threats against Raphael Warnock (left) the newly-elected US Senator who won the runoff elections in Georgia
He then shared a post with plans to recruit a group of fellow ‘patriots’ to ‘come up with a game plan’ in the wake of the election results.
‘Dead men can’t pass s**t laws….,’ he repeated. ‘I will fight so help me god.’
Florea was a supporter of the Proud Boys and had applied to become a member, the government said during his hearing.
He continued to share a series of posts as the chaos unfolded at the Capitol last Wednesday, including messages suggesting he was preparing to travel to D.C. with his armed supporters.
‘The time for peace and civility is over’, he said in one post.
‘[Three] cars full of armed patriots are enroute from NY / 3 cars of armed patriots heading into DC from NY / Guns cleaned loaded . . . got a bunch of guys all armed and ready to deploy . . . we are just waiting for the word.’
FBI agents and the NYPD were seen on Elliot Avenue and 76th Street in Middle Village, Queens on Tuesday as they descended on Florea’s home
Florea (not pictured) is accused of sharing posts online saying he wanted to travel to Washington, D.C. with a group of armed protesters following the deadly Capitol riots
In a post shared on Parler the day before, he wrote: ‘I catch one of you f**kers in DC tomorrow…. definitely slicing a throat….I f**king promise you…’
Floreawas ordered detained pending trial by U.S. Magistrate Judge Sanket Bulsara at the virtual hearing in Brooklyn.
The judge said the government’s allegations suggested that Florea’s January 6 posts ‘make clear frankly what reflects a premeditated plan to exact violence against people in New York and people in Washington.’
Florea’s arrest comes amid a crackdown by federal and local law enforcement agencies that have vowed to prosecute anyone involved in the violent siege that left five people dead.
Authorities have also been on the lookout for potential plans by protesters to disrupt Joe Biden’s inauguration next week.
Florea had allegedly shared posts online saying he wanted to travel to Washington with a group of armed protesters, CBS New York reported.
It is unclear however, whether he had actually managed to recruit participants for the alleged trip.
Five people, including one police officer, were killed on Wednesday after an angry mob of Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol (pictured) to protest Joe Biden’s election victory
The Secret Service, FBI and the National Guard are among 50 agencies and private companies that have formed a ‘Multi-Agency Command Center (MACC)’ to fortify Washington, D.C. ahead of next week’s inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden
Florea, a father of two, has been charged as a convicted felon in possession of ammunition, the news station reported.
According to law enforcement sources, records show the man has threatened to kill others in the past and had been convicted on a weapons charge in Staten Island in 2014.
Witnesses told the news station on Wednesday Florea surrendered peacefully to federal authorities and was placed into an armored FBI vehicle.
Photos of the scene showed Florea with his hands in the air after being confronted by feds on the residential street in broad daylight.
‘They took him out, his wife, two children and we saw weapons come out and some laptops,’ neighbor Larry Gianbalvo told the news outlet.
‘I’m not a weapons expert. They weren’t small. They were fairly big.’
Neighbors described Florea as a ‘loner’ and a ‘big tech guy’ who worked with computers.
‘He was a quiet guy,’ neighbor Jackelyn told the New York Daily News. ‘Didn’t socialize much, always stayed to himself.’