WASHINGTON, DC – A federal judge on Tuesday denied a request for a Glenshaw man to be released from a detention center in Washington, DC until he is tried later this year.
In a hearing before US District Court Judge Michael Harvey, the judge said of Robert Morss, 27, “He came to Capitol Hill ready for the violence, actively and enthusiastically participated in the riot, for an extended period. He is in another category of dangerousness.
He is charged with seven felonies and two misdemeanors in connection with the January 6 riot on Capitol Hill, including counts of assaulting a law enforcement officer.
Judge Harvey cited Morss’ training as an Army Ranger and government-submitted video evidence that shows Morss organizing rioters to run over police and rush to the Capitol entrances.
“He organized them and they followed his orders,” Harvey said. “He was a leader and instigator during the riot. He was in his element. He was calm, bold and confident. January 6 may be over, but the fight continues for Mr. Morss.
Tuesday’s hearing followed two hearings full of testimony last week in which prosecutors said Morss was a flight risk and a danger to the community.
Morss’ lawyers argued that he did not pose a flight risk and asked the judge to return him to the care of his mother, Angela Morss. His lawyers have said riot suspects who engaged in much more violent behavior have been released pending trial.
Anglea Morss told the judge she had moved from the family home in Carson City, Nevada to her son’s apartment in Glenshaw so she could help ensure he meets all of the restrictions set out by the tribunal.
Prosecutors said Morss knew exactly what he was doing during the riots. He wore tactical equipment and a bulletproof vest and carried scissors, knives and a gas mask.
“He didn’t just get caught off guard,” Assistant United States Attorney Melissa Jackson said in a hearing last week. “He was there, on video, actively participating, from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.”
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Morss, who was a substitute teacher in the Shaler area school district, grew up in Nevada, spent four years in the military, and served as an army ranger. Morss then attended Penn State to study education and in January was hired by the school district, Angela Morss said.
“He seemed to put his military experience and training to good use that day,” Jackson told court. “He acted as a leader and an organizer. He led the charge.
Videos and photos show Morss pushing scores of police officers trying to maintain the line outside the Capitol, ripping a hat from one officer and a shield from another.
Jackson had argued that Morss was a danger to the community because of his training as an Army Ranger and because he refused to cooperate with questions about his background and sanity.
“He refused to cooperate and obey the officers that day, so how do we know he will cooperate and obey in the future,” Jackson asked.
She also highlighted Morss’ actions after January 6. He moved to apartments and left the clothes he wore, several handguns and a notebook with “instructions on how to build a local militia” in the old apartment.
“This is extremely concerning,” Jackson said. “He continues to pose a constant danger to the government, to those who work for the government, to the officers and to anyone who does not agree with his political ideology.
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Jackson also pointed to text messages Morss sent in the days leading up to and after the January 6 riots, which she said indicate he is at risk of absconding.
“I’m pretty shaken up, I’m getting angry. I am considering leaving the country. They crush everyone ”, we read in a text of January 24.
Morss was arrested in June and identified through video and photos, some of which were taken near the national monument before the Capitol stormed.
A Jan. 6 video reportedly showed Morss “near the front line of rioters who passed police guarding the Capitol, staging a shield wall during the violent attack on officers inside the Lower West Terrace tunnel and entering the Capitol through a broken window, ”said a criminal complaint.
At one point, while attempting to climb through a fence outside the Capitol, Morss was seen grabbing an officer’s baton and trying to pull it off, according to the complaint. He later shouted into the crowd, telling people to let the police riot shields pass to create a shield wall and calling the police “traitors to their country.”
Investigators said the broken window Morss climbed through led to a hidden office for members of Congress, although it “was not specifically assigned to anyone” that day.
Morss is accused of assaulting, resisting or preventing certain officers or employees, as well as civil disorder, theft of personal property from the United States and obstruction of formal process.
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