A former Green Beret who was part of the mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, was found guilty of multiple weapon charges, including illegal possession of fragmentation grenades.
Jeremy Brown, 47, of Tampa, Florida, was sentenced Friday to seven years in prison after federal agents discovered some 8,000 rounds of ammunition in his possession, along with two explosive grenades, an unregistered rifle modified to have a short barrel, and an unregistered sawed-off shotgun, according to court documents.
There are generally more legal restrictions on short-barrel weapons. Short rifles are used in some military units because they're lighter and easier to wield in close quarters.
Brown was part of the Oath Keepers, a far-right militia group that played a key role in the insurrection on Capitol Hill. Its members were among the first to breach the building at the direction of then-President Donald Trump in a violent attempt to keep him in power after he lost the election. Some 112 Capitol Police officers were injured during the violence, including one who lost an eye and scores of others who suffered traumatic brain injuries, broken bones and post-traumatic stress disorder. Two officers later died by suicide in the aftermath of the insurrection, while another had a heart attack.
Brown's trial for his role in the insurrection is ongoing. While he was not part of the tactical stack of Oath Keepers that effectively led rioters into the Capitol, he did help stock the militia's weapons cache at a nearby hotel in Virginia -- part of the group's follow-on plans for an insurgency to keep Trump in office.
After his arrest on charges related to trespassing on Capitol grounds, Brown launched a bid for Florida's District 62 state House seat as a Republican. He ran the campaign from his jail cell and lost by nearly 40 points in the heavily blue district.
Brown served in the Army from 1992 to 2012, serving as a Special Forces communications sergeant. He had multiple deployments, including Colombia in 2004, Afghanistan in 2005 and 2011, and Iraq in 2007 and 2009. He retired as a master sergeant, according to Army records. He served with the 1st, 7th and 5th Special Forces Groups.
After Brown left the Army, he struggled in civilian life, according to court documents. He was diagnosed with depression and frequently expressed suicidal ideation. In 2019, he was involuntarily held for a mental health evaluation.
Brown was seemingly infatuated with a showdown with law enforcement and a civil war -- a common thread in far-right ideology. On the front door of his home, he taped a note for federal law enforcement.
"Re-read your oath. You are being used as a pawn by the enemies of this Republica and your Liberties," the note said. "If you don't care and say to yourself 'I'm just following orders' then Go F--- Yourself. P.S. Better bring a bigger tactical package."
When police raided his home, they also discovered multiple stacks of cash and military manuals, including one for training snipers.
"I'm now preparing to train, advise, assist and lead resistance elements during the coming (in progress) collapse of America … a WAR will come to your front door. If you are not prepared, I suggest you start now," Brown wrote in a social media message, according to court records.
There is no evidence veterans or service members are more or less likely to be radicalized or fall into extremist behavior. However, there is a long pattern of people with military backgrounds being at the center of far-right organizations or domestic terror attacks. Those groups, including the Oath Keepers, actively recruit service members and veterans for the inherent social credibility they bring to movements and tactical training.
-- Steve Beynon can be reached at Steve.Beynon@military.com. Follow him on Twitter @StevenBeynon.