A supporter of former President Donald Trump who posted a chilling video online titled “KILL YOUR SENATORS: Slaughter them all” two days after the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, has been found guilty. The video had been posted on BitChute, a platform preferred by many fringe conservatives and conspiracy theorists.
A jury in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn found Brendan Hunt, 37, guilty of making a death threat against elected officials. In the video, Hunt criticizes and threatens politicians he said were “stealing” the election from Trump. He was arrested in Queens, NY on Jan. 19 and was not at the insurrection.
In the video, Hunt says, “If anybody has a gun, give me it. I’ll go there myself and shoot them and kill them.”
Prosecutors for the Eastern District of New York pointed to the specific nature of the threats and the detailed means by which Hunt wanted to see members of Congress killed. During his testimony, he said his remarks weren’t meant to be taken seriously. “The idea that I would somehow borrow somebody’s gun, waltz into Biden’s inauguration ceremony like some Looney Tunes character,” he testified, “and somehow line up all senators and execute a firing squad on them, I think is a pretty ridiculous idea.”
Hunt said that the pandemic had made him increasingly isolated, and that he used alcohol and “bong rips” to cope. Last year, he read Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf and the manifesto of Dylann Roof, who murdered nine Black people at a church in Charleston, S.C. in 2015.
The video was one of four social media posts that prosecutors argued constituted illegal death threats. In a Facebook post, Hunt called Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez “high value targets.”
The jury, which took three hours to deliberate after the week-long trial, found that his video was criminal in nature and not protected by the First Amendment. The maximum amount of prison time Hunt faces is 10 years.