WASHINGTON – Cody Tarner, 26, of Hagerstown, Maryland, pleaded guilty on January 9, 2024, in federal court to Arson. U.S. District Court Judge Royce C. Lamberth scheduled a sentencing hearing for May 14, 2024.
The announcement was made by U.S. Attorney Matthew M. Graves, Acting Special Agent in Charge Michael O’Callaghan of the FBI Washington Field Office’s Counterterrorism Division, and Chief Pamela Smith of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD).
According to the government’s evidence, on July 15, 2020, Tarner drove onto the United States Supreme Court’s property located on First Street Northeast, Washington D.C., and parked his vehicle in an employee only parking spot. The defendant got out of his car and walked around the Supreme Court property. Tarner then returned to his car and pulled out a red gas can. At approximately 1:48 p.m., Tarner was observed on security camera footage pouring gasoline onto three Supreme Court Police unmarked vehicles parked in Supreme Court employee only parking spaces. While pouring the gasoline on the vehicles, it was observed that some of the gasoline was splashing onto his person and clothing. The unmarked vehicles had emergency police lights visible from the outside of the vehicles, and one of the vehicles had emergency police lights on the roof of the vehicle. Tarner was then seen lighting one of the vehicles on fire resulting in a violent ignition of the gasoline. This action resulted in Tarner also being engulfed in the fire causing severe burns and injuries to himself. Tarner admitted to starting the fire with 87 octane unleaded gasoline he had purchased in Pennsylvania for that purpose. The investigation revealed that Tarner had several prior encounters with law enforcement in which he expressed anti-government and militia extremist ideologies. Tarner also claimed to be the leader of an identified militia group.
This case was investigated by FBI, Supreme Court of the United States Police – Protective Intelligence Unit, and Metropolitan Police Department. It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Emory V. Cole and DOJ Attorney James Peterson.