DENVER (AP) — A judge on Monday ordered a mental health evaluation for a Colorado man whom prosecutors said was heading to a protest against COVID-19 lockdown restrictions when FBI agents found pipe bombs in his home.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael Hegarty ruled Bradley Bunn, a 53-year-old Army veteran, poses a danger to the community and ordered him to remain in custody while he awaits an evaluation. A defense attorney can renew a request for Bunn to be freed after the evaluation, the magistrate said.
FBI agents searched Bunn's Loveland, Colorado, home on May 1 and allegedly found four pipe bombs. Bunn told investigators that he would “fight to the death” anyone who tried to disarm him, had started to “gear up” for a coming war and would be willing to “take out a few” officers to “wake everyone up,” a federal prosecutor said during a court hearing
The magistrate said he needs to hear from a mental health expert before he can decide if Bunn’s words reflect a “real threat” against the public or merely an expression of his mental health condition. Hegarty also questioned if Bunn's statements relate to the “current state of affairs in this country, where lots of people are upset and are rallying and protesting at capitals all over the country” against lockdown orders.
“There’s a battle going on in this country on this issue, and I don’t know whether and how much to attribute this unique circumstance in our history to what Mr. Bunn has expressed,” Hegarty said.
Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued an alert that said a white supremacist group was inciting followers to shoot through their doors at FBI agents and police officers, prosecutors wrote in a court filing. The warning related to unspecified “associates” of Bunn.
Authorities haven’t publicly linked Bunn to any group or movement, but a federal prosecutor said agents intercepted Bunn on his way to an armed protest at the Colorado state Capitol against COVID-19 restrictions.
A court document laying out the evidence for Bunn’s arrest said he built the pipe bombs to defend himself against a “hard entry” in the middle of the night but did not explain who would be breaking in.
Bunn was serving in Iraq when he suffered a traumatic brain injury from an exploding device and had a “100% disability rating” from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, according to his attorney.
Federal public defender Matthew Golla has said Bunn has untreated mental health issues from serving as a rifle platoon commander in Iraq and that, without his medication, he was “easy prey” for agents to make broad statements about his beliefs on weapons.
During a previous hearing, Hegarty said he was inclined to release Bunn to an inpatient treatment program at the Department of Veterans Affairs and delayed a decision to find out whether the VA could take him. Golla said an outreach coordinator told him last week that the VA wasn’t “traveling” to conduct mental health evaluations.
The magistrate said the VA has a duty to care for Bunn, who “risked his life in combat for our country.”
“We are supposed to take care of our veterans. It’s just remarkable to me that they can’t find resources on an emergency basis,” Hegarty said.