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'Toxic combination' of drugs, firearms sends NC man charged in Capitol riot back to jail

James Tate Grant was arrested last month for suspected DUI and possession of an AR-15 while on pretrial release.

WASHINGTON — A federal judge ordered a North Carolina man arrested last month for suspected DUI and possession of a semi-automatic rifle held without bond Tuesday while he awaits trial on felony charges connected to the January 6 Capitol riot.

James Tate Grant was arrested in Wake County, North Carolina, last month following an incident at a restaurant. According to police, when officers pulled into the restaurant’s parking lot, Grant flagged them down and said, “They probably called on me,” and said he had been involved in the Capitol riot. Grant, who was behind the wheel, appeared to be intoxicated, police said. While being placed under arrest, he attempted to flee, and then allegedly dropped to the ground, saying, “Just kill me now. It’s over.”

A subsequent search of his vehicle turned up an AR-15 assault rifle, 60 rounds of ammunition and combat fatigues.

The Justice Department then requested Grant’s pretrial release be revoked, noting his conditions forbid the possession of firearms and require him to submit to drug testing and to avoid excessive alcohol use. The department noted Grant’s urine samples had previously turned up positive for amphetamines twice since his release.

Grant's attorney, Peter Cooper, argued his behavior was a result of stress and untreated mental health issues. U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly, however, said Grant's latest arrest appeared to be part of a pattern.

"There seems to be a toxic combination of substance abuse problems, alleged mental health issues and repeated access to firearms that poses a really serious threat to the community," Kelly said.

Kelly also said in light of the arrest, he had to reconsider the serious felony charges against Grant.

In charging documents, prosecutors say Grant and another man, Ryan Samsel, were the first two members of the pro-Trump mob to approach the police barricade in the restricted area near Peace Circle on Capitol Grounds. Prosecutors say Samsel threw over the first unmanned barricade, at which point he and Grant wave the crowd behind them to follow them:

“The video then shows Grant confronting an officer as more rioters approach the barricade. Grant yells at the officers and then, along with Samsel and defendants Stephen Randolph and Paul Johnson, as well as other rioters, he lifts up the metal barricade and shows it forward into the officers pushing them back from their positions and causing at least one officer to fall to the ground into the steps behind her and suffer a head injury and another officer to suffer an ankle injury.”

Credit: Department of Justice
James Tate Grant and Ryan Samsel were the first two rioters to tear down police barricades on January 6, 2021, according to the Department of Justice.

Prosecutors say video shows Capitol Police attempting to stop the men and replace the barricade before they are overwhelmed by Grant and others and forced to retreat.

Last week, the Justice Department notified the court it intended to join the charges against of Grant, Samsel, Randolph and Johnson into a single case. According to the filing, the men’s actions on January 6 “led to at least one U.S. Capitol Police Officer sustaining injuries that have required continual medical care since January 6.”

All of those factors, Kelly said, led him to conclude both that Grant was a danger to the community and that no combination of conditions could ensure his safe release. Kelly ordered Grant returned to federal custody while he awaits trial.

Grant faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted of obstruction of an official proceeding. His next court appearance was set for a status conference on January 27. 

We're tracking all of the arrests, charges and investigations into the January 6 assault on the Capitol. Sign up for our Capitol Breach Newsletter here so that you never miss an update.

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