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Reenactor pleads guilty to placing pipe bomb at battlefield

Apr 18, 2023, 1:28 PM

HARRISONBURG, Va. (AP) — A Civil War reenactor has pleaded guilty to charges that he planted a pipe bomb at a Virginia battlefield in 2017 and wrote letters falsely claiming that antifa protesters were to blame.

Prosecutors on Tuesday announced the guilty plea from Gerald Leonard Drake, 63, of Winchester.

Drake admitted during a hearing Monday in federal court in Harrisonburg that he planted a pipe bomb at Cedar Creek Battlefield during an annual reenactment in October 2017. The bomb did not detonate, but it resulted in cancellation of the reenactment after its discovery.

Drake was a Civil War reenactor who regularly participated in events at Cedar Creek until he was expelled from his unit in 2014.

He also admitted writing letters in 2017 and 2018 in which he falsely portrayed himself as part of a group of antifa activists who were targeting the reenactments because they believed them to glorify slavery. The letters threatened violence at subsequent Cedar Creek reenactments as well as an annual Remembrance Day Parade in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

“This defendant sought to intimidate and harm innocent people, and further, he tried to sow discontent by falsely claiming that the attempted bombing was politically motivated,” said U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Virginia Christopher Kavanaugh, whose office prosecuted the case.

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Reenactor pleads guilty to placing pipe bomb at battlefield