Over the past few years, a Virginia organization that hosts Civil War reenactments has been targeted with violent threats. And until now, organizers were led to believe those threats came from members of the Antifa, a gaggle of left-leaning militant anti-fascism groups.
That idea, however, has been turned on its head after court documents from the FBI provide evidence that the threats came from within — allegedly from a former member, Quartz reports.
Phone records for Gerald Leonard Drake, a former member of the nonprofit Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation in Middletown, Virginia, were unsealed Tuesday in federal court. They reveal evidence that Drake, a registered sex offender who’s done prison time, may have been attempting to gain revenge against Cedar Creek after it booted him from his unit.
Based on the evidence, it appears that Drake was allegedly attempting to stir up tensions between members of the far-right and the Antifa. It isn’t unusual for members of the left-wing organization to show up at far-right sponsored rallies that are defending “confederate heritage,” and that sometimes results in skirmishes.
Cedar Creek reenacts the Battle of Cedar Creek each year, but the event was canceled in 2018 after a pipe bomb was found at the event the year before. Threatening letters emblazoned with the Antifa symbol were also sent to event organizers.
The FBI’s investigation revealed red flags. An affidavit attached to the FBI’s search warrant shows that the Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation is a small organization with just one full-time employee, 12 board members, and a few scattered volunteers. The person responsible for the threats was very knowledgeable about the organization’s inner workings, including things that only an insider would know. The perpetrator was also unusually obsessed with another volunteer named Shawn Mowbray, who stopped working there in 2014.
That led investigators to connect the dots between Drake and Mowbray. They discovered that a disagreement between the two men led to Drake’s expulsion from the organization. Surveillance footage also placed Drake’s car at the scene where the pipe bomb was discovered. Law enforcement also discovered eight pages of diagrams that Drake had drawn while still in prison a decade before. Those diagrams included detailed sketches of pipe bombs, a grenade, a propane bomb, a Coleman fuel bomb, and a CO2 cartridge bomb.
Lastly, the FBI also connected Drake to messages on Reddit. The messages showed a “negative attitude toward the Cedar Creek event, possibly due to the incident with Mowbray in 2014.” Other messages used language that was similar to the mailed threats.
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