Re-enactor charged with leaving pipe bomb at battlefield
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — A Civil War re-enactor pleaded not guilty Friday to charges that he planted a pipe bomb at a Virginia battlefield in 2017 and threatened to disrupt additional events.
A federal indictment against Gerald Leonard Drake, 63, of Winchester, Virginia, was unsealed Thursday.
The indictment accuses Drake of planting a pipe bomb at Cedar Creek Battlefield during an annual re-enactment in October 2017. The bomb did not detonate but resulted in cancellation of the re-enactment after its discovery.
The indictment also charges him with writing letters threatening violence at subsequent Cedar Creek re-enactments as well as an annual Remembrance Day Parade in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
At a press conference Thursday announcing the charges, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Virginia Christopher Kavanaugh said Drake falsely claimed connections to Antifa in his threatening letters to not only hide his actual identity but also to create additional political angst.
In reality, according to the indictment, Drake was a Civil War re-enactor who regularly participated in events at Cedar Creek until he was expelled from his unit in 2014. The indictment, though, does not explicitly state that bitterness over his expulsion motived his alleged misconduct.
Public defender Don Pender, who was appointed to represent Drake at Friday's arraignment in Charlottesville, did not immediately return an email seeking comment.