Capitol Riot Updates: NPR
The 18-year-old Bruno Cua is said to have been seen here with his back to the camera and a brown jacket. Prosecutors say he entered the U.S. Capitol Senate Chamber on Jan. 6 with a handful of other rioters. Win McNamee / Getty Images Hide caption
Win McNamee / Getty Images
Win McNamee / Getty Images
Prior to January 6, 18-year-old Bruno Cua was known as a great tree house builder in his small town of Milton, Georgia. These were large, elaborate creations with ladders and trap doors and framed windows. They were so impressive that the neighbors paid Cua to build them for their children.
The world outside of Milton, Georgia hit Cua in more dramatic ways. He was reportedly seen in several videos standing with a handful of other rioters in the Senate Chamber of the U.S. Capitol. The videos have since gone viral: There’s a man in riot gear now identified as Air Force veteran Larry Brock Jr. who is reprimanding rioters, including Cua, for not sitting in Vice President Mike Pence’s chair. Cua seemed confused. “You can steal an election, but we can’t sit in your chairs?” he asked.
In a defense motion filed on Friday, Bruno Cua’s attorneys said their client was “an impressive 18-year-old kid who was finishing his online coursework to finish high school when he was arrested.”
You are painting a portrait of a young man who has been swept away by events. “In many ways, he is less of an ‘adult’ than many teenagers,” the motion said. “He has never lived apart from his parents. He has lived in the Atlanta area all his life.”
For their part, the prosecutors see Cua through a completely different lens. In a criminal complaint, they cited Cua’s social media posts prior to and after Jan 6 to indicate that he was someone genuinely inspired by former President Donald Trump and intent on violence.
Cua’s case is a powerful example of how powerful misinformation can be. Both prosecutors and defense agree that he was radicalized by what he read online, and the decision to accept the falsehoods discovered in chat rooms and social media changed the course of his life. And he wasn’t alone. To date, more than 250 people have been charged with violating the Capitol, and most of them have had varying degrees of motivation to storm the building through the falsehoods they had been reading online and on social media for months.
Bruno Cua’s lawyers said he was “an impressive 18-year-old kid” who was carried away by the events of January 6th. However, prosecutors say his social media posts prior to the Capitol riot show a young man intent on violence. The Cua family hides the caption
The Cua family
The Cua family
“President Trump calls us to FIGHT!” Cua reportedly wrote about Parler days before the siege. “It’s time to take back our freedom the old-fashioned way.”
Cua lawyers say the news that prosecutors see as threatening is the “idle chatter of an extremely passionate but very naive teenager checking what he has heard and seen on social media.” They made it clear that these ideas were not invented by Cua himself, but that they were brought to him online. He was radicalized through social media.
According to the defense motion, Cua traveled to Washington DC with his parents on January 6 to attend a Trump rally. His parents were longtime Trump supporters and Cua had become one too. They had gone to the Capitol together as a family when hand-to-hand combat broke out on the Capitol steps. Bruno Cua asked his parents if he could take a closer look. They agreed and Cua quickly disappeared into the crowd. It wasn’t until later that his parents found out that his attorneys had entered the Capitol and the Senate Chamber.
The surveillance video at the Capitol allegedly showed him wearing a dark sweatshirt, denim jacket, red Make America Great Again hat and gray gloves, wearing a baton and trying to open various office doors.
In a criminal complaint, prosecutors cited an Instagram post on January 6th in which Cua allegedly wrote, “Yes, we fought our way through physically.” Another post read, “Yeah, for everyone who asked me, I stormed this [Capitol] with hundreds of thousands of patriots. I’m going to do a whole video that explains what happened, that’s history. What happened was amazing. ”
The FBI reportedly received two tips that identified Cua as the young man who stood in the Senate Chamber on Jan. 6. His clothing helped authorities identify his movements and actions throughout the Capitol that day.
Another tipster told authorities, according to court documents, that Cua had talked for days about going to Washington on his Parler account and “actively promoted the sixth day for eleven days before a domestic terrorist attack,” it says it in the complaint.
Cua, believed to be the youngest person to date accused of storming the Capitol, allegedly assaulted a federal official. His attorneys say that as part of his clearance conditions, he would be willing to stay off social media and be monitored at his parents’ home.
Since the January events, Cua has taken three online courses: college algebra, introduction to government, and introduction to marketing, his lawyers said. He’s three grades away from high school, they added.