Virginia man pleads guilty to assault of a federal officer and destruction of government property
ATLANTA - Richard Tyler Hunsinger has pleaded guilty to assault on a federal officer and destruction of government property stemming from his use of a homemade explosive device during a protest which threatened the lives of two federal officers during the summer of 2020.
“The citizens of this district have the right to peacefully protest,” said U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan. “But those who exploit peaceful protests by committing acts of violence, like throwing Molotov cocktails into buildings where law enforcement agents are working, and destroying government property, must be held accountable.”
“Anyone who assaults a law enforcement officer or destroys government property is dangerous and an extreme threat to public safety,” said Keri Farley, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “The FBI will not tolerate protesters who turn violent and destructive and will aggressively pursue individuals that undermine the rule of law. Thankfully, no one was seriously injured during Hunsinger’s act of terror.”
“Finding, arresting and prosecuting violent criminals, like Hunsinger, who target law enforcement officers is one of the most important operations there is,” said Special Agent in Charge Katrina W. Berger, who oversees Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) operations in Georgia and Alabama. “We are thankful for the hard work done by all of the agencies involved in this case and hope that this sentence serves as a warning to anyone else thinking of committing such heinous acts.”
“The Atlanta Police Department respects every citizen’s right to protest, and we will do everything in our power to protect those rights. However, when a citizen decides to destroy government property, threaten other human beings with bodily harm and use explosive devices during a protest, their actions become criminal and therefore they must be held accountable. We hope this sends a strong message to others, that if you commit these types of acts during a protest, we will find you, and you will be arrested and prosecuted.”
According to U.S. Attorney Buchanan, the charges and other information presented in court: On July 23, 2020, Hunsinger began organizing a protest titled “Rally Against Fascism.” The event was scheduled to occur at the Atlanta-Field Office of the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (the “DHS building”).
On July 25, 2020, at approximately 11:30 p.m., a crowd gathered at the DHS building for the rally and protested outside a fenced area in front of the building. Hunsinger and others, wearing dark clothing and face coverings, breached the fences and began vandalizing the building.
While the DHS building was occupied by at least two federal employees, Hunsinger smashed at least four windows of the front entry of the structure and then lit and threw a Molotov cocktail into the building through a smashed glass door. At the same time, other individuals utilized rocks, cinder blocks, modified fireworks, more Molotov cocktails, and additional materials, to cause extensive damage to the building totaling more than $46,000.00.
Richard Tyler Hunsinger, 29, of Fairfax, Virginia, pleaded guilty to assault on a federal officer in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 111(a)(1) and (b), and destruction of government property, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1361. Sentencing is scheduled for January 24, 2023, at 10:30 a.m., before U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg.
This case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Homeland Security with assistance from the Atlanta Police Department.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Carrico is prosecuting this case.
For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia is http://www.justice.gov/usao-ndga.