DOJ: Civil War reenactor admits to planting bomb at Cedar Creek Battlefield

(STOCK)(Source: Associated Press)
Published: Apr. 18, 2023 at 9:44 AM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WVIR) - A Winchester man admits he mailed threatening letters and planted a pipe bomb at the Cedar Creek Battlefield during a Civil War reenactment event in 2017, according to the Department of Justice.

DOJ announced Tuesday, April 18, that 63-year-old Gerald Leonard Drake pleaded guilty yesterday to possession of an unregistered explosive device and stalking. In the mailings sent to victims and two newspapers, Drake purported to be a member of Antifa and threatened harm, including referencing the Unite the Right riots in Charlottesville.

“Our highest priority at the Department of Justice is to keep our nation safe. This defendant sought to intimidate and harm innocent people, and further, he tried to sow discontent by falsely claiming that the attempted bombing was politically motivated,” United States Attorney Christopher R. Kavanaugh said.

On September 23, 2017, a letter was received at the CCBF visitor center addressed to “Cedar Creek Battlefield people.”  The envelope and its letter both bore a printed Antifa symbol.

On October 14, 2017, the CCBF hosted the planned 153rd anniversary and reenactment of the Battle of Cedar Creek.  During the afternoon hours, as the reenactment of the battle was coming to an end, an unexploded pipe bomb was discovered in one of the merchant tents.

Drake admitted that he made the pipe bomb and placed it at Cedar Creek Battlefield to instill fear and cause harm to those attending the reenactment.

At sentencing, Drake faces a maximum penalty of up to 10 years in prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

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