The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Judge releases man who claimed he had bomb outside the Capitol

The threat from Floyd Ray Roseberry forced an evacuation. His lawyer said he was on the wrong medication.

Floyd Ray Roseberry of North Carolina claimed to have a bomb with him last summer on Capitol Hill. (Alex Brandon/Associated Press)

A man, who a year ago forced an evacuation of Capitol Hill by claiming his truck was filled with explosives, was suffering the effects of being given the wrong medications, a judge ruled Wednesday. After a year in D.C. custody, the judge allowed 50-year-old Floyd Ray Roseberry to await trial from his home in North Carolina.

“The court finds that proper medication and strict supervision will reasonably ensure that Mr. Roseberry does not pose a danger to the community,” wrote Judge Rudolph Contreras of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

Roseberry has dealt with mental health problems since childhood, his attorney said in court papers, including bipolar disorder. He began deteriorating in recent years after the deaths of several close relatives. In the summer of 2020, suicidal but unable to get inpatient treatment, Roseberry went to his primary care physician and was prescribed Adderall and Valium.

Man who claimed to have a bomb is found competent to stand trial

He was taking those drugs as prescribed to him when he drove to the District a year later and parked near the U.S. Capitol in a truck on Aug. 19, 2021, according to court records. In a Facebook live video, he demanded an audience with President Biden and warned that he and others had explosives with him, sending the area already on edge from the Jan. 6 attack into lockdown. Roseberry surrendered to authorities after about five hours.

Teresa Grant, a behavioral psychologist who evaluated Roseberry while he was held at jail in the District, told the court Monday she was “shocked” to learn that he was on a combination of drugs that are “contraindicated” for bipolar disorder. “It can contribute to a manic or a psychotic episode, and I think that is what happened,” she said at the hearing. Now that Roseberry is on a medication to stabilize his mood, “he has been quite stable.”

A trial date has not been set. Through public defender Mary Petras, Roseberry has disputed that he ever threatened to use a weapon of mass destruction as charged. Petras said he only warned that if hit with gunfire, his truck would explode and destroy the surrounding city blocks and that there were five other individuals in D.C. with bombs.

His truck had nothing in it that could trigger an explosion, and there were no others with him, she said. At an earlier hearing, a corrections officer testified that during an assault by another inmate that left him with a broken jaw, Roseberry had intervened and stopped further violence.

Man charged with threatening to use ‘weapon of mass destruction’

“He is not only not a danger to anybody, he is helping the guards” in the jail, Petras said. Upon release, Roseberry will be confined to his home with electronic monitoring except for legal, medical and court-approved activities.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Tortorice said in court Monday that his wife, a psychiatric nurse, agreed the combination of Adderall and Valium was dangerous for someone with bipolar disorder. But Tortorice argued that even with proper treatment Roseberry posed a risk.

“The government is not suggesting that Mr. Roseberry’s mental health did not play a role in the offense,” he said. “I think it did.” But Tortorice said there was concern “should his medications change or should he not take them.”