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News / Northwest

‘We have to kill them all.’ New document reveals Eastern WA man’s plan to attack VP Harris

By Cory McCoy, Tri-City Herald
Published: September 18, 2023, 7:36am

A Tri-Cities man believed he was on a “one way mission to hell,” and had a “contract” to kill Vice President Kamala Harris, according to a new court document.

The new information details the extent of Taylor Taranto’s beliefs that he was waging war against the government.

The document was included in a motion to deny his release from jail while he awaits trial for threatening lawmakers. He was arrested outside former President Barack Obama’s D.C. home earlier this year.

He also is facing two felony federal weapons charges, as well as federal misdemeanor charges for his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection attempt.

While much of the previously reported on threats were included in the document, the new filings included information about threats that had not yet been made public and were apparently intended to be blacked out but could still be read.

The document notes Taranto’s actions on Jan. 6, his attempts to enter two D.C. area schools to intimidate members of Congress who lived nearby, his threats to blow up a federal building and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and his arrest when he tried to get into Obama’s home.

They also included new details of specific threats and calls for violence.

D.C. District Court Judge Carl Nichols wrote that his decision was in part based on information provided by investigators that showed Taranto allegedly exchanging messages on Telegram plotting to kill politicians. Telegram is a website popular with right-leaning groups that’s meant to be an alternative to Twitter.

Taranto allegedly told another user, who has not been identified, that, “We have to kill everyone who got in my way,” and “I need you to seek vengeance against them.”

The document also alleges that Taranto believed he had a contract to kill Kamala Harris.

In May 2023, Taranto allegedly discussed implanting an explosive tooth into the vice president’s mouth.

The document says Taranto then stated, “This is the biggest contract I have ever satisfied,” “We have to kill them all,” “Payout is in the hundreds of millions.”

The excerpts from the messages also include Taranto telling the other user that militias had a duty to kill “traitors.”

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“I’m not in anyway encouraging you or anyone else but those in positions of power and authority to try and execute those who willfully betrayed the American people. But if they fail . . . it will be up to the free constitutional militias that the same traitors are trying to terrorize by undoing the constitution they have an affirmed constitutional duty to deploy and kill any traitors.”

Just before his arrest in June, Taranto allegedly told the other user, “We still have to kill them all,” and told them to wait for a signal just days before threatening to use his van to blow up a federal building.

The document also says Taranto allegedly applied for a job at the same federal building before he threatened to blow it up. It’s unclear if this was an attempt to gain access.

“The messages recently proffered to the Court by the government are extremely concerning, as they evidence an intent to consider violence against politicians and other government actors,” Nichols wrote.

Release request

Taranto’s public defender previously argued that he did not present a danger to the community, and proposed a plan for his release back to his wife’s custody in Tri-Cities, Wash., that included a requirement to seek both ongoing and inpatient mental health treatment at a VA hospital in the Puget Sound.

The attorney told the judge that the hospital specialized in care for veterans suffering from PTSD and complex mental health issues.

Taranto is a U.S. Navy Veteran and former webmaster for the Franklin County Republican Party. The organization told the Herald that they cut ties with Taranto last year over his increasingly concerning behavior.

Taranto had been splitting his time between the Tri-Cities and attending various protest in D.C. Most recently he was seen with Freedom Corner, which is a vigil outside of the D.C. Metropolitan Jail for Jan. 6 defendants.

According to the Gateway Pundit, that group also cut ties with Taranto after he allegedly began saying Ashli Babbitt was a government plant. Court documents show Taranto was present in the Capitol building in a group with Babbitt when she was shot and killed trying to break through a door between rioters and lawmakers. Babbitt’s mother has been a central figure in the Freedom Corner vigil, according to social media reports.

Taranto also was in an incident in which he was attacked in the D.C. jail after his arrest, according to his attorney. Other Jan. 6 inmates told the Gateway Pundit they believed he was there as an informant, despite a well-documented history of Taranto accusing other Jan. 6 figures, like Ray Epps, of being government plants.

Officer’s death

Taranto is also a defendant in a wrongful death civil suit brought by the widow of a D.C. Metropolitan Officer that he allegedly helped another rioter attack.

Officer Jeffrey Smith died by suicide nine days later, as he was due to return to work. His widow only recently won death benefits.

Smith’s widow said in an Op-Ed in the Washington Post, published in January 2022, that two medical examiners “have testified that post-concussive syndrome and brain injury were the real causes of (her husband’s) death” because the concussion he suffered led to severe depression and suicide.

The lawsuit accuses Taranto of handing another rioter a Ka-Bar self defense cane, which is made to look like a standard walking cane, but is much heavier, which was then used to hit the officer repeatedly in the face and head.

Smith had been fighting to have her husband’s death recognized as in the line of duty for more than two years.

She told NBC News last month that she will now fight to have her husband inurned in Arlington National Cemetery.

Officer Brian Sicknick, who died from strokes related to injuries he sustained in the riot, is also buried in the national cemetery.

Taranto was named in the wrongful death lawsuit after outing himself by posting video from inside the Capitol building on social media. Online sleuths then found photos that linked Taranto to the attack.

Taranto has questioned why he wasn’t arrested sooner. He also recently appeared on a webshow walking the host through what he claims was footage of himself in the riot.

His co-defendant in that civil suit, David Walls-Kaufman, was sentenced to 60 days in jail on misdemeanor rioting charges in June. Taranto was spotted by NBC News Reporter Ryan J. Reilly being asked to leave the hearing because he was attempting to record the proceedings. Federal courts do not allow outside photography.

No trial date has been set for Taranto. He is set to be back in court in October.

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