Virginia man pleads guilty to assaulting a federal officer and destroying government property | USAO-NDGA

ATLANTA — Richard Tyler Hunsinger has pleaded guilty to assaulting a federal officer and destroying government property resulting from his use of an improvised explosive device during a protest that threatened the lives of two federal officers during the summer 2020.

“The citizens of this district have the right to peaceful protest,” said U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan. “But those who exploit peaceful protests by committing acts of violence, such as throwing Molotov cocktails at buildings where law enforcement officers work and destroying government property, must be held accountable.”

“Anyone who assaults a law enforcement officer or destroys government property is dangerous and poses an extreme threat to public safety,” said FBI Atlanta Special Agent in Charge Keri Farley. “The FBI will not tolerate protesters who turn violent and destructive and will aggressively pursue individuals who undermine the rule of law. Fortunately, no one was seriously injured in Hunsinger’s act of terror.

“Finding, arresting and prosecuting violent criminals, like Hunsinger, who are targeting law enforcement is one of the most important operations there is,” said Special Agent in Charge Katrina W. Berger, who oversees operations. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Georgia and Alabama. “We are grateful for the hard work done by all the agencies involved in this case and hope this sentence serves as a warning to anyone considering committing such heinous acts.”

“The Atlanta Police Department respects every citizen’s right to protest and we will do everything in our power to protect those rights. However, when a citizen decides to destroy government property, threaten other human beings with bodily harm, and use explosive devices during a protest, their actions become criminal and therefore must be held accountable. We hope this sends a strong message to others that if you commit these types of acts at a protest, we will find you, and you will be arrested and prosecuted.

According to U.S. Attorney Buchanan, the charges and other information presented to the court: On July 23, 2020, Hunsinger began organizing a protest titled “Rally Against Fascism.” The event was to take place at the Atlanta office of the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (the “DHS Building”).

On July 25, 2020, at approximately 11:30 p.m., a crowd gathered outside the DHS building for the rally and demonstrated outside a fenced area in front of the building. Hunsinger and others, wearing dark clothing and face coverings, broke through the fences and began vandalizing the building.

While the DHS building was occupied by at least two federal employees, Hunsinger smashed at least four windows in the structure’s main entrance, then lit and threw a Molotov cocktail into the building through a shattered glass door. At the same time, other people used rocks, cinder blocks, modified fireworks, more Molotov cocktails and additional materials to cause major damage to the building totaling over $46,000.00.

Richard Tyler Hunsinger, 29, of Fairfax, Virginia, pleaded guilty to assaulting a federal officer in violation of Title 18, United States Code, sections 111(a)(1) and (b), and destroying government property, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1361. Sentencing is scheduled for January 24, 2023 at 10:30 a.m., before U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg.

This case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Homeland Security with assistance from the Atlanta Police Department.

Assistant United States Attorney Matthew Carrico is prosecuting the case.

For more information, please contact the US Attorney’s Office of Public Affairs at [email protected] or (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia is http://www.justice.gov/usao-ndga.

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