A Colorado man who planned to attend a “Reopen” rally in Denver on May 1 before he was arrested by the FBI for possessing pipe bombs was involved in the boogaloo movement, a far-right militia offshoot that uses cryptic pop-culture references to prepare for a future civil war.
FBI agents and other law enforcement executing search warrants on Bradley Bunn’s residence in Loveland, Colo. on May 1 discovered four pipe bombs at the 53-year-old man’s home, according to a press release issued by the US Attorney’s office in Denver. Agents also discovered two one-pound containers of .308 caliber cartridge reloading gunpowder, a potential pipe bomb component, in Bunn’s vehicle. If convicted for possession of destructive devices, Bunn faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The arrest set off a flurry panicked texts from Bunn’s extremist associates in Colorado to allies networked across the country through boogaloo-inspired Facebook pages. On the morning of Bunn’s arrest, Chevy Lee McGee wrote on his Facebook page in all caps: “I might need backup ASAP. Possible police raid at my house.” Then he posted the address of his mother’s house in Fort Collins. He ended with a request: “Need QRF teams,” using a military term for “quick reaction force.”
The day after Bunn’s arrest, McGee identified “Bradley” as “the guy who was arrested and is still being held in corrections by the FBI” in a long Facebook message to Red Flag Alert, a gun-rights page. McGee described an encounter with a SWAT team outside Bunn’s house, a frantic effort to shake off pursuing law enforcement vehicles and an hours-long hideout in wilderness park. Then, after seeing a social-media post from another friend saying the police were at his house, McGee wrote, “I knew I was going to be next, so I made that post for everyone to standby just in case something happened. Then my mom’s freaking out because she works with the sheriff’s office [in Larimer County] and they were talking about me and how I talked to Bradley’s etc. [sic], so she told me to get my ass home. It could’ve been a setup so I have a couple bois roll with me there etc.”
On the evening of May 1, the administrator of Allegheny Rescue Co., a boogaloo-inspired Facebook page, posted Bunn’s intake record at the Larimer County Detention Center, writing that it was proof of the arrest and the FBI’s involvement.
Commenters erupted in anger on the page.
“Should’ve shot their way out,” one commenter wrote. “This is why we need dedicated regiments and strike teams. Get your county and state boog bois together and be ready to go.”
Another wrote: “This is fucking horse shit. The feds are nervous now, they see people arming and organizing.” He went on to reassure another commenter, using in-group boogaloo code for “brother”: “There will come a time when the police are the ones outnumbered, borther.”
Still another wrote: “They’re on to the boog bus. Tactics may have to change y’all. Just speaking objectively.” He went on to reference the Jan. 20 Second Amendment rally in Richmond, Va., and April 30 rally in Lansing, when Reopen protesters stormed the Michigan state capital: “Richmond was a success and recently Michigan scared some people… and they didn’t like that.”
The threats caught the attention of the US Department of Homeland Security, which issued an alert “stating that it had identified threats of violent action to be taken against FBI agents and local law enforcement partners in reaction to an arrest happening this weekend,” according to a brief filed by US Attorney Jason R. Dunn on Sunday.
The government obtained a court order from a US magistrate judge restricting the motion and other documents pertaining to the case from public access.
“DHS warned that a white supremacist extremist instant messaging group shared information claiming a quick reaction force was being staged in the Fort Collins, CO area in response to an FBI raid, and that the group was inciting followers to shoot through their doors at FBI agents and local law enforcement officers performing said raids,” Dunn wrote, in the restricted motion obtained by Raw Story. “Based on its review of online social media posts, FBI understand this warning to pertain to associates of Mr. Bunn, and the FBI is taking steps to safeguard and warn agents and local law enforcement officers in the area.”
The redacted complaint, which is publicly available, includes an explanation by Bunn for what he planned to do with the pipe bombs.
“If I experienced a hard entry, at 3 am, having been an infantry commander, it’s really tough to get guys to spread out no matter how hard you try,” Bunn reportedly told the FBI agent. “They still want to clump up ’cause of fear, and I know their, their, anyway blah blah blah.”
“So, a hard entry in the morning, you were going to use them on a bunch of clumped-up guys out front?” the agent asked.
“Fuck yes,” Bunn replied.
The boogaloo movement is notable in the rapidly evolving lineage of far-right groups not only for its enthusiasm for firearms but for its hostility towards law enforcement, said Megan Squire, a computer science professor at Elon University in North Carolina who monitors far-right groups.
Some boogaloo activists highlight the names of black victims of police violence, including Eric Garner and Oscar Grant, along with right-wing militia martyrs like Lavoy Finicum, who was killed during the Malheur National Forest standoff in Oregon in 2016, and Vicki Weaver, who was killed by an FBI sniper during the Ruby Ridge siege in 1992. But they also generate and share memes glorifying the Wehrmacht, the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany, and jittery graphics that borrow from the aesthetics of Atomwaffen and other overtly white supremacist accelerationist groups.
“That’s going to be their anti-police thread, which is a new thing,” Squire told Raw Story. “To me, that is evidence of them aligning with the accelerationists and white supremacists instead of the boomer tier, Blue Lives Matter faction. It’s not just a rebranding of 2A; it’s a significant shift.
“They’re using Eric Garner’s name because they’re trying to overtly signal that they’re anti-police,” she added. “That may be more important than that they may or may not be anti-black.”
In the early morning hours of May 2, one of the Colorado boogaloo activists who uses the name “Neo Lothbrok” on Facebook, recounted how Bunn’s arrest torpedoed the “Open carry at the Denver capitol” event.
“Chevy’s safe for the night, we got him in a safe house with some of our bois,” he wrote on the Allegheny Rescue Co. page. “We need to talk about our guy who got swatted before even leaving the house by the FBI…. All this was from an open-carry rally we had planned for downtown Denver, despite it being illegal to do so.”