The Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested a Tallahassee man on Friday for plotting to incite violence at the Florida Capitol Building.
Daniel Baker, an Army veteran, planned to encircle and confine protesters at the Capitol Complex using firearms. He encouraged others to join him, Northern District of Florida U.S. Attorney Lawrence Keefe said.
“Extremists intent on violence from either end of the political and social spectrums must be stopped, and they will be stopped,” Keefe said in a statement. “The diligent work in this case by the FBI and other public safety organizations has averted a crisis with this arrest, and we will not stop in our efforts to detect, deter, and disrupt anyone else planning to incite or commit violence.”
Baker, facing federal charges, can serve a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. He’s accused of communications containing threats to kidnap or injure another person.
Baker served only one year as a former U.S. Army Airborne infantryman before receiving an other-than-honorable discharge.
Authorities said he had a “history of expressing his belief in violent tactics” and taught others how to “incapacitate and debilitate law enforcement officers” via his social media accounts. He also encouraged the killings of U.S. military officers, according to a criminal complaint.
Baker’s YouTube channel contains dozens of videos — some teaching hand-to-hand combat, others displaying proficiency with weapons, and many lamenting President Donald Trump and “terrorist Trump supporters.”
The channel also contains combat footage from Baker’s time alongside the People’s Protection Units — a nonstate group fighting in Syria against ISIS and the Turkish government.
More social media posts suggest the Army veteran planned to violently disrupt Florida Capitol protests between now and Inauguration Day on Jan. 20.
Authorities said Baker participated in numerous protests over the summer.
“This arrest serves as a message to anyone who intends to incite or commit violence in the Northern District of Florida: If you represent a threat to public safety, we will come for you, we will find you, and we will prosecute you,” Keefe said. “Daniel Baker’s actions show that he is a dangerous extremist, and the law-abiding public is safer now that he has been arrested. We are, and will remain, on high alert and will take all appropriate actions against credible threats to the people of our District.”
The arrest came more than a week after Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol as members of Congress met to certify electoral votes that finalized Joe Biden’s victory. It also came as authorities in Washington, D.C., Tallahassee and other state capitals prepare for potential protests this weekend or early next week.
The preparations have come after an internal FBI bulletin warned that “armed protests” in the days leading up to Biden’s inauguration are being organized by Trump supporters at state capitals.
While few details have been provided, the demonstrations are expected as earlier as this weekend and sometime before President-elect Biden‘s Jan. 20 inauguration.
It is unclear what direct threats the Florida Capitol Complex may face.
The Capitol Police in Tallahassee sent out an alert Friday following Baker’s arrest, saying the Florida Department of Law Enforcement is “aware of the information regarding possible protests and violence at state capitols.”
Also on Friday, Tallahassee Mayor John Dailey requested that Gov. Ron DeSantis call in the Florida National Guard to help protect the Capitol. He pointed to National Guard members who will be in Washington to help with the inauguration.
Baker had a first appearance in federal court Friday, appearing on a live feed from a detention facility and wearing an orange jumpsuit with his head shaved. He is charged with transmission, in interstate commerce, of a communication containing a threat to kidnap or to injure. If convicted, he would face a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
He was appointed a federal public defender, with preliminary and detention hearings scheduled Thursday.
The FBI has been aware of Baker’s social media threats since October, according to court documents.
“Recently, however, Baker has been posting messages and multimedia to his Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube accounts that have been increasingly ripe with extremist rhetoric,” the complaint said.
Baker served in the military for about a year until 2007. He was a U.S. Army Airborne infantryman, before receiving an “other-than-honorable discharge” for going “AWOL before his unit was to deploy to Iraq,” the U.S. Attorney’s office said. He experienced a nine-year period of homelessness after being discharged, authorities said, before joining a group fighting in Syria against ISIS and the Turkish government.
To watch Keefe’s video message about today’s arrest, click on the image below:
The News Service of Florida contributed to this post. Republished with permission.