Judge: Suspect’s notebook indicates “bone-chilling” intent

A federal judge Friday ordered Joseph Clifford Reel to be kept in jail pending indictment on charges that he crashed his Jeep into security barriers near the White House last Sunday morning before jumping a fence in an attempt to spray paint a symbol on White House grounds.

U.S. Magistrate John M. Facciola questioned whether the Kettering resident suffers a “serious mental illness,” and whether Reel’s attempt to enter the White House grounds were actually an attempt to harm President Obama.

He cited a notebook found in Reel’s Jeep that contained scrawling about a “signal to take him down,” and wondered if the “him,” in that phrase was Obama. The notes, he said, were “bizarre and irrational,” and other documents indicating Reel’s intent were “bone-chilling,” he said.

The notebook, as well as transcripts of a YouTube video posted on Reel’s Facebook page “firmly convinced me this was not some sort of frolic. This was part of a deranged attempt to do what was attempted to be done,” Facciola said. “The defendant came to Washington to do something dangerous and violent.”

Reel, 32, wearing an orange prison suit, said nothing during the hour-long detention hearing, which began Thursday but was broken into two parts because of dangerous weather Thursday afternoon. His court-appointed attorney, Tony Miles, attempted to prove that Reel did not intend to hurt anyone and only wanted to send a statement about his politics.

“The motivation of this incident was engaging in an act of civil disobedience,” he said.

Secret Service Special Agent John McCarty testified that during the early morning hours of June 9, Reel rigged the accelerator and steering wheel of his 2008 Jeep Patriot to travel as fast as 45 miles an hour and operate without a driver. The Jeep careened through an intersection and slammed into a light post, a steel bike rack and a barrier near the White House, causing damages estimated at $7,800.

A few minutes later, McCarty said Secret Service saw a man identified as Reel bicycling near the area of the crash. Secret Service ordered him to turn around and bike the other way. Reel turned around, McCarty said, and rode about 25 feet before hopping off the bike and jumping over a three and a half to four-foot tall fence. Officers chased him and detained him in a courtyard adjacent to the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, an office building next to the White House where many administration employees work. Reel tried to enter the building before being detained in the courtyard.

When officers detained Reel, they confiscated a cell phone, a knife, a lighter, glasses and a notepad. They found a can of spray paint that he had apparently dropped nearby.

McCarty said when Secret Service questioned him, Reel admitted the Jeep was his and that he was “looking for a way in” to the building. Reel “wanted to spray paint a symbolic gesture – the ‘don’t tread on me’ snake,” McCarty said.

At the time of his arrest, Reel was an armed security guard with Moonlight Security in Dayton. He had a concealed carry permit in his wallet. Police found 200 rounds of ammunition, and multiple knives, including two machetes in his Jeep, but no guns and no explosives.

A person answering the phone at Moonlight Security on Friday said the company would have no comment.

Maia L. Miller, an assistant U.S. attorney in Washington and a native of Toledo, argued that Reel could’ve killed or injured someone in Secret Service, including the guard stationed in the guard booth, as well as pedestrians or other cars. “Once the car was set in motion by the defendant, there was no way to stop it,” she said.

She cited the array of weaponry in his Kettering home - including a Glock21 .45 caliber pistol, a Taurus .22 caliber firearm, a baseball bat with spikes on the barrel, a sword, a spear, two ballistics vests, four hunting knives and a gas mask – as well as his words in the online YouTube video and the notebook he left in his Jeep as evidence that he posed a threat.

“The defendant’s own words show he is a danger to the community,” she said.

Reel faces 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted.

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