A former Canadian Armed Forces reservist who is linked to a violent white supremacist group will remain in custody after prosecutors said he discussed the planning of violence at a Virginia gun rally.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Timothy Sullivan said Wednesday that Patrik Mathews is a “very dangerous person” who “espouses very dangerous beliefs.” Speaking at Mathews’ detention hearing in Maryland, Sullivan ordered Mathews detained pending a Jan. 30 preliminary hearing.
Mathews and two other men were arrested last Thursday on federal felony charges in Maryland and Delaware, just days before they were believed to be headed to a pro-gun rally in Virginia’s capital. Federal prosecutors said in a court filing Tuesday that a hidden camera captured the men expressing hope that violence at the rally could start a civil war.
A prosecutor told the judge at Wednesday’s detention hearing that Mathews, 27, and other members of The Base organization were preparing “essentially a paramilitary strike” at the gun rights rally in Richmond. Monday’s event had attracted tens of thousands of people and ended peacefully.
Defense attorney Joseph Balter said Mathews may have used “alarming” and “outrageous” language in conversations captured on video at a Delaware home in the days leading up to the rally. But Balter said his client’s statements are protected by the First Amendment as free speech and didn’t reflect any specific plans for violence.
Another man who was arrested, Brian Mark Lemley Jr., waived his right to a detention hearing. A third defendant, William Garfield Bilbrough IV, is expected to appear in court at separate detention hearing Wednesday.
In Tuesday’s court filing, a prosecutor urged the judge to keep the three men in custody.
The prosecutor said Mathews videotaped himself advocating for killing people, poisoning water supplies and derailing trains.
A closed-circuit television camera and microphone installed by investigators in a Delaware home captured Mathews talking about the Virginia rally as a “boundless” opportunity, prosecutors said.
“And the thing is you’ve got tons of guys who … should be radicalized enough to know that all you gotta do is start making things go wrong and if Virginia can spiral out to … full blown civil war,” he said.
Lemley talked about using a thermal imaging scope affixed to his rifle to ambush unsuspecting civilians and police officers, prosecutors said.
“I need to claim my first victim,” Lemley said on Dec. 23, according to Tuesday’s detention memo.
“We could essentially like be literally hunting people,” Mathews said, according to prosecutors. “You could provide overwatch while I get close to do what needs to be done to certain things.”
FBI agents arrested Mathews, Lemley and Bilbrough as part of a broader investigation of The Base. Authorities in Georgia and Wisconsin also arrested four other men linked to the group.
Mathews and Lemley are charged with transporting a firearm and ammunition with intent to commit a felony. Bilbrough is charged with “transporting and harboring aliens.”
Bilbrough’s attorney, Robert Bonsib, said last Thursday that he was “underwhelmed” by a prosecutor’s arguments for keeping his client detained. Bilbrough was the only one of the three men not facing a firearms-related charge.