A federal magistrate judge in D.C. ordered Friday that Jeffrey Clark, a neo-Nazi who praised the Pittsburgh synagogue shooter, remain in detention while he awaits trial on charges of illegal gun possession.
Magistrate Judge Michael Harvey said that he did not find that Clark was a flight risk — as prosecutors had argued — but agreed with prosecutors that he was a threat to the public.
Clark pleaded not guilty to the two charges through his public defender, David Bos.
Bos had argued that he should be allowed to return to the home in the Bloomingdale neighborhood where he lives with his father and be placed under high intensity supervision.
“I do not find that to be a viable option — returning him to the home where all of this was going on, ” Harvey said.
Clark was arrested on Nov. 9 after two relatives went to the FBI with concerns about his increasingly erratic behavior and open support for Robert Bowers, the suspect accused of killing 11 people at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue. His 23-year old brother—Edward “Teddy” Clark—killed himself in a D.C. park hours after the Pittsburgh shooting, with extra ammo found lying next to his body. The relatives who reported his brother told police that they suspected he had been planning to commit an act of violence.
Prosecutor John Cummings said that it was the “combination” of Clark’s drug use, which Cummings described as an addiction, and the fire arms that he possessed that made him a threat to the public.
“He is a bomb: hatred, drug use, violence, expressions of a line being crossed” if his drugs were taken away, Cummings said.
Cummings pointed to comments that Clark made to the FBI that the government taking his guns was a “very personal threat in his mind that justifies violence.”
The prosecutor also said that while searching Clark’s home, law enforcement found two additional fire arms, block powder revolvers, as well as the bottom halves of AR-15s.
Harvey, in announcing his decision, pointed to the AR-15 parts as well as body armor that agents also found and said that it “seemed like the defendant was preparing for something.”
Bos knocked prosecutors for initially connecting an October 26 social media post by Clark, referencing a “dry run,” to Pittsburgh shooter Robert Bowers, when in fact it was about Cesar Sayoc, the man behind numerous mail bombs sent to Democrats across the country.
Clark had “nothing to do” with that shooting, Bos said, but the “media ran with a story that was incorrect.” Bos suggested that the judge “be very skeptical of the representations the government makes.”
Clark did not speak for most of the hearing but responded “yes, your honor,” when the magistrate judge told him he could appeal his detention ruling. Clark’s father was in the courtroom, Bos said.
Asked by the judge, Cummings clarified that Clark’s dad was not either of the witnesses referenced in court documents who reported Clark to law enforcement and demanded that he hand over his weapons. Cummings also said that Clark had tested negative for meth, which was mentioned in his social media profile.
There is a status hearing scheduled in Clark’s case on November 27.
With reporting from Josh Kovensky