A QAnon follower and Donald Trump supporter has been sentenced to five years of probation for repeatedly firing a gun into the facade of the federal courthouse in downtown Portland in January.
Cody Melby, 40, fired a 9mm handgun at the courthouse multiple times because he “wanted to get in front of the court for political and patriotic reasons,” according to his attorney, public defender Bryan Francesconi.
“The unquestionable reality is, he’s an incredibly patriotic person who did what he believed was necessary as part of his duties to this country based off his years of service,” Francesconi said before his client was sentenced Monday, according to a report from Willamette Weekly.
Melby, who served in the U.S. Army in Kosovo in 2001, followed by three tours in Iraq, told U.S. District Judge Karin Immergut that his intent in firing the weapon at the courthouse “was to just be able to talk to you and kind of come forward with some stuff.” Melby claimed he had a secret security clearance while in the Army, including a “courier card” that allowed him to transport “confidential and classified materials,” the newspaper reports.
“Our government had extremely high trust in me throughout my career,” Melby told Immergut. “My statement before you today is simple: I’m here to state that, under penalty of perjury since my permanent retirement from the Army, I’ve been involved in a series of military operations on American soil for the Trump Administration. It is important that I come forward as a whistleblower, because our Constitution has possibly been subverted due to loopholes and inadequate government.”
Melby also reportedly told Immergut he wanted to be released from jail so that he could transmit sensitive information to Congress. When the judge asked how he planned to contact Congress, Melby replied that he would do so by email.
“I will ask you to have a discussion with probation before you start sending emails to folks, because I’m concerned that you could find yourself going down a path that would not be helpful to you,” Judge Immergut responded. “So to the extent that there is anything that’s perceived as threatening, for example—that would not be good for you.”
Melby pleaded guilty to a felony charge of possession of a firearm in a federal facility, which normally carries a prison sentence. But federal prosecutors and Melby’s defense attorney agreed on probation due to his lack of criminal history and “the totality of the facts and circumstances of this case,” Willamette Weekly reports.
Federal prosecutor Paul Maloney said: “During this time, he became fixated on the civil discourse surrounding the 2020 protests, as well as the presidential election. As the court notes, there [were] publicly-posted YouTube videos of the defendant advocating for violence in support of his views… Mr. Melby was determined to get himself in front of a federal judge to express those views. He determined that he needed to fire a weapon at the structure of the Hatfield courthouse.”
Melby’s YouTube videos reportedly included “statements that subscribe to the ‘Alt-Right’ ideology of ‘Stop the Steal’ and QAnon conspiracy theories.”
Maloney noted that during his final tour of duty, Melby was injured during rocket fire.
In addition to serving probation, Melby will be required to enter treatment in a mental health facility, barred from visiting certain websites, and prohibited from entering a three-block area surrounding the courthouse.
He still faces charges stemming from an incident two days before the courthouse shooting, on Jan. 6, in which he tried to enter the Oregon State Capitol with a firearm during a far-right rally.
“Cody Melby is a disabled combat veteran who, after becoming detached from his mental health support system, made an extraordinarily poor and dangerous decision to fire a gun at the Hatfield Courthouse,” said Scott Erik Asphaug, the acting U.S. attorney for the District of Oregon, in a statement. “Fortunately, nobody was injured during this incident. The sentence imposed today will ensure Mr. Melby receives the treatment he needs while also protecting the community.”