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Judge orders release on bail of Costa Mesa man nabbed in connection with Capitol riot

An image from video recovered by FBI agents during a Feb. 16 raid in Costa Mesa
An image from video recovered during a Feb. 16 raid in Costa Mesa shows Christian Secor posing with an assault-style rifle and tactical helmet, the FBI says.
(U.S. Department of Justice)

A UCLA student arrested in an FBI raid last month in Costa Mesa in connection with his alleged participation in the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol attack has been released from detention pending trial, despite claims from prosecutors he constitutes a danger to the community.

U.S. District Court Judge Trevor McFadden in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday ordered the release on bail of 22-year-old Christian Secor, held in custody since his Feb. 16 arrest, indicating he is to remain under house arrest and regularly report to authorities.

In addition to having to pay a $200,000 bond to secure his release, Secor is prohibited from possessing firearms or narcotics and has been ordered to stay away from Washington. He cannot use or apply for a passport and must submit to location monitoring, court records indicate.

FBI agents used news and closed-circuit camera footage, along with information provided by tipsters, to determine Secor was among a group of rioters who pushed their way past police officers and entered the Capitol building. Video showed Secor inside the Senate chamber, sitting in the chair occupied by Vice President Mike Pence before the attack.

Christian Secor on the floor of the U.S. Senate
Christian Secor on the floor of the U.S. Senate during Jan. 6 riot.
(U.S. Department of Justice)
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Secor pleaded not guilty to a list of 10 charges including civil disorder, obstructing an official proceeding, entering restricted grounds and assaulting, resisting or impeding officers.

Defense lawyer Brandi Harden filed a March 14 emergency motion with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia asking that Secor’s detention order be revoked so he could complete his final exams at UCLA, where he was studying political science and was reportedly on track to graduate.

“This is Mr. Secor’s first arrest, he has no history of violent behavior and has no criminal record,” Harden wrote in the motion, stating that Secor caused no injuries while inside the Capitol. “Furthermore, [he] is not a risk of flight.”

Christian Secor, who was charged with federal crimes for his alleged role in the Capitol riot, had stirred up tensions over free speech.

The attorney claimed the events of Jan. 6 were not planned by Secor but instead inspired by statements made earlier that day by then President Trump that “encouraged — and foreseeably resulted in — imminent lawless action at the Capitol.”

In a document opposing the motion, Assistant U.S. Atty. Kim Paschall urged the court not to grant Secor’s release, stating he’d destroyed his cellphone after returning from the Capitol, made plans to evade law enforcement and was planning “ultra-secret” future operations with others in California.

Paschall said FBI agents who raided Secor’s home and vehicle in Costa Mesa, discovered multiple weapons, including an unregistered “ghost gun,” three knives, a baton, along with mace and body armor plates, and a .22-caliber rifle registered in Secor’s name.

Video footage recovered during the search showed Secor wearing a tactical helmet and aiming an assault-style rifle. That weapon was not located during the Feb. 16 raid.

“The government has grave concerns about the defendant’s access to weapons that are not registered to him should he be released,” Paschall wrote.

Secor had access to substantial financial resources that would provide him the means and opportunity to flee from law enforcement, she said.

Subpoenaed bank records indicate that in a one-year period, he’d been the recipient of more than $33,200 in the form of brokerage account and cash deposits as well as 29 deposits from various PayPal accounts.

Further, Paschall wrote, subpoena returns for one of Secor’s credit card accounts showed that, between Dec. 2019 and Nov. 2020, he made at least 20 purchases from firearms and military tactical gear retailers totaling more than $3,300.

A smashed cellphone found in a raid that FBI agents believe belonged to UCLA student Christian Secor.
(U.S. Department of Justice)

“He is a danger to the continued operation of the federal government, the law enforcement officers dedicated to protecting that government and to the community at large,” Paschall concluded.

Harden did not respond to requests for comment Thursday, and a representative from the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington declined to comment.

Secor is scheduled to appear before a judge in a June 14 status conference to be held remotely.

Cardine writes for Times Community News.


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