A West Virginia man was arrested Thursday after “engaging in threatening conduct” towards jurors and government witnesses in the federal trial against the the Pittsburgh synagogue shooter, prosecutors announced.
Hardy Carroll Lloyd, 45, has been charged with obstruction of justice, transmitting threats and witness tampering, according to a criminal complaint. Prosecutors described Lloyd as a “self-proclaimed ‘reverend’ of a White supremacy movement,” the US Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of West Virginia said in a statement Thursday.
Lloyd is accused of making threatening social media posts, online comments and emails toward the jurors and witnesses in the trial of Robert Bowers, who was sentenced to death last week after he killed 11 worshipers and injured six others at a Pittsburgh synagogue in 2018, prosecutors said.
Bowers was found guilty of all 63 federal charges against him, including murder and hate crimes charges, in the shooting, which was the deadliest-ever attack on Jewish people in the United States.
“Jury trials are a hallmark of the American justice system and attempts to intimidate witnesses or jurors will be met with a strong response,” William Ihlenfeld, the US Attorney for the Northern District of West Virginia, said in a statement. “The use of hateful threats in an effort to undermine a trial is especially troubling.”
Lloyd has yet to enter a plea. His attorney, public defender Elizabeth Gross, declined to comment when reached by CNN.
Prosecutors accuse Lloyd of beginning to make the online posts about Bowers’ trial in early May – when jury selection was underway but the trial had not yet begun – and continuing until after the jury reached its verdict in June, according to the affidavit.
Lloyd’s emails and online posts allegedly encouraged attacks similar to the 2018 shooting and expressed support for the gunman, the affidavit outlines. He also solicited identifying information about the trial jurors and witnesses, according to court documents.
In May, Lloyd sent an email to various recipients, including several local news outlets covering the trial, with an ominous message about a juror in another case who was killed after voting against the defendant, according to the affidavit.
In early June, Lloyd allegedly posted photos of some of the victims and witnesses on a page titled “enemies” on his website. The website says the so-called “enemies” page provides information for “Lone Wolves,” according to the affidavit.
The next day, he posted a picture and some personal information about one of the witnesses on the “enemies” page, the document says. A federal agent notified the witness, who said they were “worried them but that they were not going to change their lifestyle,” it says, noting the witness took the stand days after Lloyd’s alleged post.
Other witnesses Lloyd was seeking information on were also notified by law enforcement, according to the affidavit.
During the trial, Lloyd lived in an area of West Virginia less than an hour’s drive from Pittsburgh and has been in the Pittsburgh area at least times since early May, according to the affidavit, which cites cell phone records and license plate scanners. Stickers and flyers promoting Lloyd’s website were also found around the city, according to local news reports and social media posts included in the affidavit.
“We’ve been waiting for this arrest for a while,” Brad Orsini, the senior national security advisor for the Secure Community Network nonprofit, told CNN Thursday.
The Secure Community Network, a safety and security organization for the North American Jewish community, set up a command post in Pittsburgh during the trial to help monitor for any potential threats, Orsini said. He said many community members he spent time with during the trial were “very fearful” of Lloyd.
“I am incredibly relieved for the entire Pittsburgh community that he’s been arrested and detained,” Orsini said.
Source : CNN