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Man claiming to be combat vet throws smoke bomb near Trump’s Mar-a-Lago, report says

President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla. (Charles Trainor Jr./Miami Herald/TNS)
March 18, 2021

A man claiming to be a combat veteran and angry that he hadn’t received his stimulus check threw a smoke bomb outside former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida on Sunday.

CBS 12 reported that 38-year-old Paul Brantly Rawls admitted to police that he tossed the smoke bomb near the resort. The West Palm Beach man is facing multiple charges including making, possessing, throwing or discharging any destructive device, criminal mischief and disorderly conduct.

Rawls told law enforcement that he is a combat veteran and former Airborne Ranger who has had trouble in his transition back to civilian life. He reportedly criticized Trump’s administration because he had not yet received his stimulus check.  

United States Secret Service and local law enforcement had responded to a report of a device on South Ocean Boulevard that was smoking and smoldering, causing two cars to crash while attempting to steer clear of the device.

The explosive was later identified as a 7.5-inch fused incendiary device made by Pyro U called “5 Minute White Smoke”, police said. The bomb squad at the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office was deployed to search for other devices, the local CBS affiliate reported.

Surveillance footage revealed an individual in a gray Volkswagen tossing the bomb out of the car’s window. Law enforcement used the license plate to track down Rawls, who reportedly told police on his cellphone, “I know the real reason you want to talk to me.”

“I know why I’m here, it’s because I threw a smoke bomb, it’s all on video,” Rawls later told investigators, according to CBS 12.

Nine smoke bombs, four flares, four 5 Minute White Smoke devices, a 12-foot expandable hook, nylon rope and a black glove were also reportedly found in the suspect’s vehicle.

Rawls was taken to Palm Beach County Jail where he was held on a $21,000 bond.

Last week, President Joe Biden signed the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package after the House of Representatives passed the measure that includes $1,400 stimulus checks for some Americans with a vote of 220-211.

The legislation, called the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, allows $1,400 “rebate checks” to be distributed to individuals making less than $75,000 per year, or $2,800 to couples making less than $150,000. The first checks were deposited in many Americans’ accounts on March 17.

“This historic legislation is about rebuilding the backbone of this country,” Biden said as he signed the bill in the Oval Office.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said most American households can expect the checks within weeks.

“What do we say to America? We say to America help is on the way,” Schumer said following the bill’s passage in the House. “You will receive $1,400 checks by the end of March.”