Pittsburgh Present Senior Contributor
Kenneth Grayson, a fifty-one 12 months previous white man from Bridgeville, went to DC “to combat, not hold round,” in response to messages obtained by the FBI.
He grabbed his Gadsen flag (‘Don’t Tread on Me’) and headed to the January sixth rally. Utilizing Fb Messenger, he despatched a photograph to members of the family just a few hours earlier than the rioting and violence: standing close to the Washington monument, he’s holding the flag, carrying a Pirates ball cap and black jacket just like a highschool letter jacket, this one was emblazoned with a big ‘Q,’ presumably for QAnon.
When the rally grew right into a violent and lethal rebel, Grayson was considered one of many who breached the constructing. The FBI had no hassle recognizing him in photographs from the safety cameras inside. He’s simple to select within the space often called the Crypt — nonetheless carrying the Gadsen flag, nonetheless within the Q jacket. (The jacket, just like the Pirates cap, is black with a gold emblem.)
Witnesses who reached out to the FBI stated that Grayson was an ardent conspiracy theorist. They stated his FB account was a hagiography of sprawling QAnon prophecies, sham election fraud claims and MAGA speaking factors. FB photographs from a Bridgeville group (now taken down) confirmed that his residence had been adorned with massive Trump flags and banners, together with one well-liked with essentially the most ardent loyalists of the ex-president — the one with Donald Trump’s head photoshopped onto a Rambo-like physique.
At Grayson’s detention listening to on January twenty eighth within the Federal Courtroom for the Western District of Pennsylvania in entrance of Choose Lisa Pupo Lenihan, FBI Agent Mark Brundage testified that, along with looking Grayson’s FB account, the company recovered textual content messages on Grayson’s cellphone to the impact that he felt the necessity to kill folks, together with then President-Elect Joe Biden. Brundage additionally stated that, following his arrest, Grayson informed brokers he had no regrets for getting into the Capitol and would do it once more.
Regardless of that testimony, Grayson was launched from custody and is below home arrest pending trial. He should put on a monitoring system and test in with the US Pretrial providers usually and his motion is restricted. However, he’s residence, as are many of the Pennsylvanians charged for their part in the Capitol insurrection. Nevertheless, two of the accused males in Western Pennsylvania remain in custody due to their criminal records.
How did Grayson handle to be launched?
The Present searched federal and state courtroom dockets, in addition to related police information from a number of municipalities, so as to get an correct image of Kenneth Grayson earlier than he drove all the way down to DC for the rebel. The Present found that he has crossed paths with regulation enforcement and the judicial system quite a few occasions, has a prolonged felony file and a historical past of violence.
What follows is an outline of a few of his actions which have left a path of public information. There are accounts from a Safety from Abuse Order, FBI filings, arrests filed in Magisterial Courts and the Courtroom of Widespread Pleas, and police incident stories from totally different departments, considered one of which describes a brutal beating.
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In January of 2006, a short lived Safety from Abuse Order (PFA) was filed towards him by his ex-girlfriend. They’ve a baby collectively (the kid was six years previous at the moment.) In her petition signed by Courtroom of Widespread Pleas Choose, the sufferer acknowledged:
“He [Grayson] is within the ACJ. He referred to as me on 1-7-06 and threatened to kill my boyfriend. This scared me as a result of he has threatened to kill me a number of occasions. He has a really violent mood and has crushed up many individuals prior to now. I really feel that the risk to my boyfriend additionally included me. He fights with me in entrance of our little one. I used to be so frightened by his final name, that I obtained an EPFA. I worry for the protection of my little one and myself.”
She additionally acknowledged in her petition that he had been bodily violent and abusive to her prior to now after they had been nonetheless concerned: “I’ve needed to name the police a number of occasions for bodily fights that now we have gotten into — The place he left bruises on my physique and blacked my eye. I needed to be handled at St. Clair Hospital for bruised ribs.”
A consent settlement was later filed which set forth the allowable parameters for contact: that he “shall not abuse, stalk, harass, or threaten” his ex-girlfriend, that he was excluded from her residence, and that he mustn’t contact her besides by way of a delegated third occasion (his mother and father). Moreover, he may contact her solely to debate their minor little one.
Home abuse could be an indicator that much more intense and far-reaching violence is feasible. In June 2020, Bloomberg Information printed an evaluation of 749 mass shootings which had taken place between 2014 and 2019. They discovered that about 60% of those attacks were committed by men with histories of domestic violence, or had been themselves home violence assaults.
Grayson isn’t the one one of many Western Pennsylvanians charged within the rebel who has been abusive to a minimum of one girl in his life. Peter Schwartz, additionally charged within the Capitol breach circumstances initially filed within the Western District of Pennsylvania, made verbal threats towards his (then) girlfriend and her son. Schwartz was thereafter convicted in Kentucky of third-degree terroristic threats and possessions of a firearm by a convicted felon.
In Pennsylvania, PFAs are filed in household courtroom, somewhat than felony courtroom, that means they generally go undetected. Pennsylvania now has a unified internet portal for looking felony magisterial dockets on-line, however anyone wanting there for a file or historical past of intimate, companion violence wouldn’t discover a PFA.
Nicole Molinaro, the president and CEO of the Ladies’s Heart and Shelter of Higher Pittsburgh, says that going by way of the method of getting a PFA could be actually troublesome.
“You’re going to courtroom and it’s a public course of. It’s actually a really troublesome course of emotionally to get a PFA. If anyone has by no means needed to get a PFA earlier than, they’re saying, ‘I understand that I’m in such hazard for my life that I want for the courts to assist cease this individual.’ Emotionally, it’s a very difficult factor,” Molinaro stated.
She additionally stated that finding these orders inside household divisions somewhat than felony divisions provides them the texture of one thing with not as a lot gravity; we’re simply not prepared to take severely the issues that occur inside a household, despite the fact that the trauma may be very actual.
“The entire system re-victimizes victims many times — they’re those who need to go get the safety, they need to get it served they usually oftentimes have to regulate how they’re residing till they’re secure,” she stated.
For a lot of victims, this is perhaps the primary time they’ve interacted in any respect with the courts. For those who don’t know your manner round, it may be lots to navigate. You may have to go to the Courthouse, or the Metropolis-County Constructing, or the Household Courts Constructing; simply discovering your option to the precise spot could be an nervousness minefield. Added to this, bureaucracies could also be disorienting to people who find themselves not expert at working inside them and this step comes at a time when victims could be at their most weak.
“We see victims and survivors who’re completely scared to dying,” in response to Molinaro. “It’s a must to symbolize your self nicely. It’s a must to work out the place to go, work out what to do. There’s assist from authorized advocates, however it’s very intimidating.”
However getting these orders is important. They’ll save lives.
“We all know that they’re items of paper. They’ll’t really cease anyone from hurting you, however what they will do is assist to encourage a quicker police response, a extra critical police response,” in response to Molinaro.
Respecting the privateness of Grayson’s ex-girlfriend, and understanding that she may not wish to revisit such a troublesome time, the Present didn’t attain out to her for remark, however did attain out to the legal professional who represented Grayson throughout these proceedings and the associated little one help/custody matter; he has not responded to a request for remark.
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Eight months later, on an August evening in 2006, Grayson reportedly beat up a person outdoors the 5 Fools Bar within the North Hills. Witnesses informed police various tales about what occurred that evening, however what does appear clear is that Grayson and the sufferer quarreled contained in the bar after which reached some kind of detente. Later, when the sufferer exited the bar, he was crushed badly by Grayson. The person later informed the police that the primary blow to his head felt prefer it was made with one thing far too arduous to be a fist, however he was jumped so he didn’t see it coming and couldn’t say precisely what it was.
Based on the investigation filed by the McCandless Township Police, one witness informed officers that he noticed Grayson strike the sufferer along with his fist. One other stated that, whereas Grayson was beating the person, the person hit his head on one thing. One other man who was contained in the bar when the 2 males had been arguing earlier, informed the police that it appeared to him the sufferer tried to diffuse the state of affairs and “was not searching for a combat.” He additionally informed the police he knew Grayson and that, “in his opinion, Grayson tends to search for a combat.” He didn’t see the precise incident outdoors the bar.
The police reported that a number of bones within the man’s cranium had been damaged and he required surgical procedure at Allegheny Common Hospital; the process lasted 4 and one-half hours and a 1.2 mm titanium plate was inserted and hooked up to restore the person’s damaged orbital bone.
Grayson was charged with each easy assault and aggravated assault in October, 2006. Based on an Order entered within the Allegheny County Courtroom of Widespread Pleas, Legal Division on October 4 of 2007, he pleaded out, served one 12 months of probation and paid restitution of $14,806 to the sufferer.
For Grayson, the combativeness didn’t finish in 2006. In April of 2008, his landlord sued him for vandalizing the property he rented from her, with damages estimated at a value of $14,304.87 (plus three months of unpaid lease.)
In January 2010, in an incident in McDonald Borough, he was charged and pleaded responsible to easy assault, disorderly conduct/making a hazardous/bodily offensive situation, and harassment/subjecting others to bodily contact.
Early in January 2017, Grayson was charged and pleaded responsible to disorderly conduct/making a hazardous or bodily offensive situation in Pittsburgh. A few week later, he was once more charged and once more pleaded responsible to disorderly conduct participating in preventing, this time in North Strabane Township, Washington County.
In February 2018, he was concerned in one other alcohol fueled combat on the Franklin Inn. This time, no person ended up on the hospital, however the bartender stated she had stopped serving Grayson previous to the incident as a result of he was drunk, in response to the report filed by the Franklin Park Police Division.
When police arrived, Grayson had a minimize below his eye and informed police that he was jumped after a dialogue within the bar about politics. Witnesses say that he was throwing limes at anyone and verbally taunting one patron particularly — and that he was yelling racial and LGBT slurs.
Issues acquired bodily outdoors, although no witnesses gave an account of what the combat itself regarded like. Based on the incident report, one witness discovered a pistol on the bottom close to Grayson; the person turned it over to the police after they arrived. It was a semi-auto 380 pistol — it was loaded and there was a spherical within the chamber.
Three weeks later, Grayson pleaded responsible to the costs of disorderly conduct/participating in preventing.
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The FBI stated that January sixth wasn’t Grayson’s first time in our nation’s capital for tinderbox rallies that turned ugly within the waning days of the Trump administration. Based on information supplied by Fb to the FBI, it seems he went to DC in mid-November 2020. On November 14, 2020, throughout the Million MAGA March in help of Donald Trump, the Proud Boys gathered and clashed violently with police.
Based on filings by the US Lawyer’s workplace, on November sixteenth, Grayson despatched a number of non-public messages relating to his actions there: “We had been smashing bro..went to the van I rented and equipped..needed to depart at 7pm although, it wasn’t actually unhealthy but..I used to be beating commies with a flag pole I picked up and regarded prefer it wasn’t going to be that unhealthy Proud Boys had been all over the place..cops weren’t doing a fukin factor watching previous folks get fucked with it was sickening.”
He despatched a second message about his actions: “I left one unconscious so I did my little half and acquired the fuck out earlier than I acquired arrested”
Inside days of the January sixth riot, a witness contacted the FBI and supplied screenshots from Grayson’s FB account, considered one of which was a screengrab from his livestream contained in the Capitol Constructing that afternoon. Information point out that he ‘was reside’ beginning at 2:22 that afternoon. He live-streamed twice contained in the Capitol, every time for a brief time frame and every time he was filming what was occurring with the digicam dealing with away from him. [The FB account was disabled, but it should be noted that the account was disabled by FB, not Grayson, after US Magistrate Judge Harvey authorized a search warrant of the account.]
Within the affidavit hooked up to the Criticism filed by the USA towards Grayson, the FBI added to the proof that he was contained in the constructing by reproducing communications with a number of members of the family and pals which acknowledged his intention to journey to Washington to attend the pro-Trump rally on January 6, 2021.
On December 23, 2020, he despatched this message relating to his plans to go to the rally: “… Okay nicely now we have room for the street journey..I’m sick of those fukin posers on FB large powerful guys all the time speaking about their weapons and tempers and ooo scary man shit! FUCK U !! I’m on the entrance line each time mom fuckers! This shit isn’t a fukin recreation to me , or some social media ****** (anti-gay slur) story time !! I’m there for the best celebration of all time after Pence leads the Senate flip!! OR IM THERE IF TRUMP TELLS US TO STORM THE FUKIN CAPITAL IMA DO THAT THEN! We don’t need any hassle however they aren’t going to steal this election that I assure bro!!”
The FBI additionally submitted as proof a number of non-public messages despatched from family and friends to Grayson which might additional affirm his presence contained in the Capitol Constructing that day as follows:
- “Kenny get the hell out of there. Its a federal offence to be in there.” (despatched at 3:06 pm)
- “Did you hear photographs fired in there? That’s what the information is claiming.” (despatched at 3:18 pm)
- “Kenny they’re within the Senate Chamber! Are you able to get in anyplace? TAKE PHOTOS!!! TAKE DOCUMENTS!!” (despatched at 3:50 pm)
- “Bro they took your reside movies down. WFT? Good fucking work in the present day.” (despatched at 5:55)
- “Did I simply see you climbing the wall on the capital lol.” (despatched at 6:34)
When deciding whether or not or to not grant bail, a judge takes into account many factors and previous felony file is of great consequence; it’s a massive a part of why fellow Capitol Insurrectionists Jorden Mink and Peter Schwartz are being held with out bail.
Additionally a consider whether or not or to not detain an accused individual is the severity of the crime she or he is charged with. Christopher West, a neighborhood Black Lives Matter protester is nearing a year in jail with out bail. His cost: kicking a police automobile.
The indictment has not but been handed down within the Kenneth Grayson case, however he’s accused of unlawfully getting into the Capitol Constructing and collaborating in geared toward obstructing or impeding Congress. He’s residence awaiting trial.
That is a part of the Present’s ongoing protection of the January sixth Capitol Breach.