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Civil War Re-enactor indicted for planting pipe bomb at Cedar Creek Battlefield – Gerald Drake also charged with stalking and mailing threatening letters

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HARRISONBURG, Va. – A federal grand jury in Charlottesville has indicted Gerald Leonard Drake, 63, from Winchester, Va., for mailing threatening letters, stalking, and planting a pipe bomb at the Cedar Creek Battlefield in Middletown, Virginia during a Civil War reenactment event in 2017. In the mailings sent to victims and two newspapers, Drake purported to be a member of Antifa and threatened harm, including referencing the Unite the Right riots in Charlottesville.

The indictment, which was unsealed following Drake’s arrest today, charges him with fifteen criminal offenses including: mailing threatening communications, malicious use of explosives, possession of an unregistered destructive device, unlawful manufacture of a destructive device, use of explosives to commit a federal felony, and stalking.

While having anonymously claimed connections to Antifa in threatening letters to Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation, this social media page post shows Gerald Drake at a sign indicating ‘Nazi Party Rally Grounds’ in Nuremberg Germany – Photos from Gerald Drake’s Social Media page

“This indictment and arrest mark the culmination of a nearly five-year investigation into the perpetrator of the attempted bombing,” United States Attorney Christopher R. Kavanaugh said today.


“Over that time, career federal prosecutors and federal agents steadfastly investigated and uncovered the identity of the individual who sought to terrorize innocent civilians in the Western District of Virginia. In the aftermath of the riots in Charlottesville, and at a time when people sought to heal, this defendant instead sought to sow political discontent and mayhem. From the local police who secured the scene, to the state police that diffused the bomb, and through to the federal agents who investigated the true identity of the perpetrator, this was truly a quintessential example of law enforcement partnership.”

“The FBI is grateful no one was injured by this explosive device, and no physical harm came to the individuals being threatened. In our mission to protect the American people, law enforcement will continue to take threats to individuals and public places seriously and will hold those responsible accountable for their actions. If you suspect a similar crime is about to occur or have information about one that has, please contact the FBI immediately at 804-261-1044 or via tips.FBI.gov,” said Stanley M. Meador, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Richmond Division.

As detailed in the indictment, Drake belonged to a reenactment unit that participated in the annual reenactment at Cedar Creek Battlefield until he was removed from his unit in 2014. In later years, Drake volunteered with the Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation (CCBF), which is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of history related to the Cedar Creek Battlefield and which hosts an annual reenactment attended by merchants, re-enactors, and visitors.

On September 23, 2017, a letter was received at the CCBF visitor center addressed to “Cedar Creek Battlefield people.” The envelope and its letter both bore a printed Antifa symbol depicting a black flag overlayed atop a red flag inside of a circle. The letter claimed the reenactment event “clearly celebrates the war to keep African-Americans in chains,” and warned the reenactment organizers that if the event was not cancelled, the trouble they would inflict on Cedar Creek Battlefield would make the riots that took place in Charlottesville in August look like “a Sunday picnic.”

In response to the letter, the CCBF posted a warning on its website that security had been increased and apologized for the inconvenience.

On October 14, 2017, the CCBF hosted the planned 153rd anniversary and reenactment of the Battle of Cedar Creek. During the afternoon hours, as the battle was coming to an end, an unexploded pipe bomb was discovered in one of the merchant tents. The pipe bomb contained metal nuts, a mercury switch, a battery, ball bearings, black and red wires, powder, and other items.

Deputies from the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office responded to the scene to investigate and seize the explosive device, which was later rendered safe by Virginia State Police. Due to its discovery, however, all remaining reenactment activities were cancelled, and individuals were evacuated from the area.

Following this incident, Drake continued writing letters purporting to be sent by Antifa, including letters to the CCBF, its board members, an individual associated with Civil War reenactments, and news publications. During this same time frame, Drake continued to volunteer with the CCBF.

Drake at Yellowstone National Park

On November 6, 2017, a letter was received by The Gettysburg Times at its offices in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Once again, the letter and envelope both bore Antifa motifs and warned that if the Gettysburg Remembrance Day Parade allowed confederate flags or confederate men and women to be in the parade, “we will disrupt the whole weekend.” The letter also stated that “we have a new person to make our bombs for us since the Cedar Creek one was a dud,” and “[w]e will also run over people with a couple of trucks and might have a shooter on the rooftop [or elsewhere] along the parade route.” However, the Gettysburg Remembrance Day Parade of 2017 occurred without incident despite these threats.

In 2018, one year after Drake planted the pipe bomb at Cedar Creek Battlefield, he sent another letter to the then-President of the CCBF as well as The Winchester Star, a local newspaper in Winchester, Virginia. In this letter, Drake warned organizers to “cancel this event or you will regret it!” and discussed the various ways in which a “suspicious package” could be smuggled into the event.

On July 3, 2018, the annual Cedar Creek Battlefield reenactment was canceled due to security concerns. In addition, the president of the CCBF resigned due to tensions caused by Drake’s threats.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Virginia State Police, Frederick County Sheriff’s Office, and the Middletown Police Department participated in the investigation.

United States Attorney Christopher R. Kavanaugh for the Western District of Virginia and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Katie Burroughs Medearis, Melanie Smith, and Cagle Juhan are prosecuting the case.

An indictment is merely an allegation, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.


(From a release from the Department of Justice, U.S. Attorney’s Office Western District of Virginia)

 

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Congressman Ben Cline holds Town Hall meeting in Warren County

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Residents of Warren County were invited to a town hall event with Congressman Ben Cline (VA-06) on December 5, 2022. This town hall event was an opportunity for residents of Warren County to engage in a dialogue with Rep. Cline about important issues in Virginia’s Sixth Congressional District.

Watch the Town Hall meeting on this exclusive Royal Examiner video.

 

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Frederick County Sheriff’s Office deputies help rescue horse after fall into pool

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On December 2, 2022, Frederick County Sheriff’s Office Deputy’s responded to a residence on Green Springs Rd. in Frederick County. This was regarding an 1800-pound draft horse that fell into a swimming pool. Once on the scene Deputies determined that the horse had knocked over the top rail of the fence around the pool, jumped the fence and walked out onto the nylon pool cover causing the horse to fall into the water. However, its head and part of the body remained above water.

The Draft Horse was in the 9-foot end of the pool. Deputies Cram, ACO Deputy Tasker and Sgt. Hawse started cutting the pool cover away from the horse. Once it was clear of the cover and haltered, the horse was pulled to the shallow end of the pool where it was able to stand and catch its breath. Deputies were able to guide the horse up the stairs to the pool deck and into the yard.

The Veterinarian who handles the horse was called and advised to dry the horse as good as possible, feed it hay and keep it moving. That information was passed on to the owner’s children that arrived on scene. At the time of this email the horse was doing fine.

“You just never know what type of calls we respond to every day. This is one for the books. We are happy that it was witnessed, and we could respond to assist. Deputies were ready to go in the water if needed to make sure the horse stayed above water,” Sheriff Lenny Millholland observed of the incident.


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Local doctors take time out to again treat third world country residents of Honduras

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For the past 14 years, local Dr. Thomas (call me “Tommy”) Ball has ducked out of Front Royal Family Practice to spend up to two weeks leading a medical team to serve the people of Honduras, one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere.

Dr. Ball – okay, we’ll call him Tommy from here on – has always considered serving the under-served a core mission of his medical practice.  For the past 20 years Valley Health has recognized and supported that mission as part of his faculty position at the Shenandoah Valley Family Practice Residency.  “Valley Health recognizes that young doctors want to understand Global Health and want to contribute internationally.  They allow me to devote time as a teacher to global health issues and they support our work overseas,” he told us.

Dr. Ball examining a patient in Honduras clinic. – Courtesy Photos Dr. Ball/SAGE

Medical faculty from around Virginia have formed a nonprofit organization, SAGE (Students And Global Engagement), focused on introducing trainees to a small community in rural Honduras.  As Tommy describes it, “We attempt to foster better health among the Hondurans and to expose Americans to the needs people face in a third world setting.  It is a two-way street in which both parties benefit.”


SAGE helped build a small mountainside clinic in the village of Pinares, Honduras.  They send medical teams for one to two-week stretches three times a year at four-month intervals.  The area they serve is approximately the size of Warren County, with similar mountainous terrain.  Average take-home pay for the mostly agricultural workers around Pinares is about $3-dollars a day (yes, a day, emphasized Ball).

Medication, some donated by Valley Health, helps patients cope with a variety of diseases including familiar problems such as diabetes, hypertension and arthritis, as well as problems uncommon here such as parasites caused by contaminated water.  SAGE tries to go beyond just medication and address the underlying social factors that foster illness.  In recent years they have donated monthly food packages to families with young children and filters to improve the safety of drinking water.

This fall the team included Dr. Paulius Mui and Dr. Sean Sutphen from the residency training program and seasoned local physician Dr. Shyama Rosenfeld, as well as support personnel in pharmacy, emergency transport, and anthropology.

Dr. Shyama Rosenfeld, left, leads a team visiting a handicapped young woman in her mountainside home near Pinares, Honduras.

Tommy has developed close ties and friendships in the community SAGE serves.  He notes that he is older than most volunteers, but hopes he still has a few more years left of visiting and doing his best to improve health conditions in Pinares. “We have the personnel who want to help, but we are always struggling financially,” Tommy said, hoping that local service clubs and other non-profits might see their way to help support SAGE.

If you, the reader, are interested and require additional information, email Tommy at Front Royal Family Practice (taball@valleyhealthlink.com) or visit the SAGE website (sage-community.com). And yes, you may call him Tommy!

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WATCH: Christmas Parade 2022

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If you missed the Christmas Parade or want to see it again, sit back and enjoy!

This year the Front Royal/Warren County Chamber of Commerce Christmas Parade was hosted by Mike McCool, Publisher of the Royal Examiner, and Niki Foster, Executive Director of the Front Royal/Warren County Chamber of Commerce. Special thanks to Mark Williams, videographer, and the parade sponsor Lindsay Chevrolet.

 

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If it’s early December it must be time for Kiwanis’s Pancake Day Breakfast thru Lunch community fundraiser

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The Kiwanis Club of Front Royal held its annual Pancake Day fundraising event at Warren County High School’s cafeteria from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, December 3rd. This event raises significant funds, which are put back directly into our community and our schools to help the children of Warren County. Kiwanis is a global organization of volunteers dedicated to “changing the world One Child and One Community at a time.”

All proceeds from the event go right back into the community. Kiwanis thanks all those sponsors, members, and others who help make this event an annual community success.

We approach the WCHS front entrance. – But where are the pancakes and sides? A-Ha, a clue …

The Kiwanis Club Pancake Day food line has transitioned from breakfast to brunch and now lunch as the 1 p.m. closing time approached.


And on the way in and out of the WCHS cafeteria there were other options than food to contribute to the cause. – Royal Examiner Photos Roger Bianchini

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VDOT: Warren County Traffic alert for December 5 – 9, 2022

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The following is a list of highway work that may affect traffic in Warren County during the coming weeks. Scheduled work is subject to change due to inclement weather and material supplies. Motorists are advised to watch for slow-moving tractors during mowing operations. When traveling through a work zone, be alert to periodic changes in traffic patterns and lane closures.

*NEW* or *UPDATE* indicates a new or revised entry since last week’s report.

INTERSTATE 66
No lane closures were reported.

INTERSTATE 81
Mile marker 299 to 300, northbound and southbound – Overnight left lane closures for equipment unloading and barrier installation, 8 p.m. to 7 a.m. through the night of December 15.


PRIMARY ROADS
No lane closures were reported.

SECONDARY ROADS
*NEW* Route 840 (Water Plant Road) – Flagger traffic control near I-81 for the I-81 overpass bridge inspection, Monday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Vegetation management may take place district-wide on various routes. Motorists are reminded to use extreme caution when traveling through work zones.

Traffic alerts and traveler information can be obtained by dialing 511. Traffic alerts and traveler information also are available at www.511Virginia.org.

The VDOT Customer Service Center can assist with reporting road hazards, asking transportation questions, or getting information about Virginia’s roads. Call 800-FOR- ROAD (800-367-7623) or use its mobile-friendly website at my.vdot.virginia.gov. Agents are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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Thank You to our Local Business Participants:

@AHIER

Aders Insurance Agency, Inc (State Farm)

Aire Serv Heating and Air Conditioning

Apple Dumpling Learning Center

Apple House

Auto Care Clinic

Avery-Hess Realty, Marilyn King

Beaver Tree Services

Blake and Co. Hair Spa

Blue Ridge Arts Council

Blue Ridge Education

BNI Shenandoah Valley

C&C's Ice Cream Shop

Card My Yard

CBM Mortgage, Michelle Napier

Christine Binnix - McEnearney Associates

Code Ninjas Front Royal

Cool Techs Heating and Air

Down Home Comfort Bakery

Downtown Market

Dusty's Country Store

Edward Jones-Bret Hrbek

Explore Art & Clay

Family Preservation Services

First Baptist Church

Front Royal Women's Resource Center

Front Royal-Warren County Chamber of Commerce

G&M Auto Sales Inc

Garcia & Gavino Family Bakery

Gourmet Delights Gifts & Framing

Green to Ground Electrical

Groups Recover Together

House of Hope

I Want Candy

I'm Just Me Movement

Jen Avery, REALTOR & Jenspiration, LLC

Key Move Properties, LLC

KW Solutions

Legal Services Plans of Northern Shenendoah

Main Street Travel

Makeover Marketing Systems

Marlow Automotive Group

Mary Carnahan Graphic Design

Merchants on Main Street

Mountain Trails

Mountain View Music

National Media Services

No Doubt Accounting

Northwestern Community Services Board

Ole Timers Antiques

Penny Lane Hair Co.

Philip Vaught Real Estate Management

Phoenix Project

Reaching Out Now

Rotary Club of Warren County

Royal Blends Nutrition

Royal Cinemas

Royal Examiner

Royal Family Bowling Center

Royal Oak Bookshop

Royal Oak Computers

Royal Oak Bookshop

Royal Spice

Ruby Yoga

Salvation Army

Samuels Public Library

SaVida Health

Skyline Insurance

St. Luke Community Clinic

Strites Doughnuts

Studio Verde

The Institute for Association & Nonprofit Research

The Studio-A Place for Learning

The Valley Today - The River 95.3

The Vine and Leaf

Valley Chorale

Vetbuilder.com

Warren Charge (Bennett's Chapel, Limeton, Asbury)

Warren Coalition

Warren County Democratic Committee

Warren County Department of Social Services

Warren County DSS Job Development

Warrior Psychotherapy Services, PLLC

WCPS Work-Based Learning

What Matters & Beth Medved Waller, Inc Real Estate

White Picket Fence

Woodward House on Manor Grade

King Cartoons

Front Royal
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Upcoming Events

Dec
7
Wed
6:30 pm Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Dec 7 @ 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Bingo to support the American Cancer Society mission, organized by Relay For Life of Front Royal. Every Wednesday evening Early Bird Bingo at 6:30 p.m. Regular Bingo from 7-9:30 p.m. Food and refreshments available More[...]
Dec
10
Sat
10:00 am 10th Virginia Infantry Encampment @ Sky Meadows State Park
10th Virginia Infantry Encampment @ Sky Meadows State Park
Dec 10 @ 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
10th Virginia Infantry Encampment @ Sky Meadows State Park
Historic Area Journey back in time and immerse yourself in the sights, sounds and smells of a Civil War Encampment during the holidays. Interact with the 10th VA Infantry, also known as the Valley Guards,[...]
Dec
14
Wed
6:30 pm Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Dec 14 @ 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Bingo to support the American Cancer Society mission, organized by Relay For Life of Front Royal. Every Wednesday evening Early Bird Bingo at 6:30 p.m. Regular Bingo from 7-9:30 p.m. Food and refreshments available More[...]
Dec
21
Wed
6:30 pm Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Dec 21 @ 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Bingo to support the American Cancer Society mission, organized by Relay For Life of Front Royal. Every Wednesday evening Early Bird Bingo at 6:30 p.m. Regular Bingo from 7-9:30 p.m. Food and refreshments available More[...]
Dec
28
Wed
6:30 pm Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Dec 28 @ 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Bingo to support the American Cancer Society mission, organized by Relay For Life of Front Royal. Every Wednesday evening Early Bird Bingo at 6:30 p.m. Regular Bingo from 7-9:30 p.m. Food and refreshments available More[...]
Jan
1
Sun
5:30 am First Day Hikes at Sky Meadows @ Sky Meadows State Park
First Day Hikes at Sky Meadows @ Sky Meadows State Park
Jan 1 @ 5:30 am – 3:00 pm
First Day Hikes at Sky Meadows @ Sky Meadows State Park
Historic Area. While the American tradition of celebrating the New Year occurs at midnight on New Year’s Eve, other cultures celebrate by enjoying the sunrise on New Year’s Day. As part of the continuing American[...]
Jan
4
Wed
6:30 pm Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Jan 4 @ 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Bingo to support the American Cancer Society mission, organized by Relay For Life of Front Royal. Every Wednesday evening Early Bird Bingo at 6:30 p.m. Regular Bingo from 7-9:30 p.m. Food and refreshments available More[...]