Gun Resembling Phone Allegedly Bought by Accused Capitol Rioter
(Bloomberg) -- A Virginia man who is charged in one of the biggest conspiracy cases stemming from the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riot bought a gun that looked like a cell phone weeks before the attack, prosecutors told a judge in objecting to a proposal to ease his home detention.
The Justice Department on Wednesday said recently obtained records show Thomas Caldwell, an associate in the far-right Oath Keepers group, purchased the unusual double-barreled .380 caliber handgun in November 2020 and emailed the seller the next month after it failed to arrive.
“I am eager to receive this weapon,” Caldwell said in the email, two weeks before the attack on the Capitol, according to the U.S. filing.
While Caldwell was in detention in February, someone used his email address to cancel the order, since the gun never arrived, according to the government.
The description of the gun from the manufacturer’s website says the weapon is “ingeniously designed to resemble a smartphone, yet with one click of the safety it opens and is ready to fire,” according to the U.S. filing.
Caldwell is seeking to modify his home detention to an “appropriate curfew” that would allow him to move freely around two counties near his farm.
The U.S. cited new details about the attempted purchase as a reason why it “continues to have grave concerns” about Caldwell’s home detention, which includes frequent approved trips to attend religious services and medical appointments. Another reason cited by the U.S. was his and his wife’s Internet searches after Jan. 6 for relocating to Costa Rica, Panama and the Bahamas.
Caldwell, one of hundreds of people charged after the insurrection, is accused of helping to “organize individuals who were on standby with guns in a hotel across the river” from the Capitol that day. He has denied wrongdoing and says the U.S. has already walked back some claims about him.
©2021 Bloomberg L.P.