Last January, filled with dread over the mounting COVID-19 lockdowns and brimming with frustration over what he believed to be an election stolen from the true president, Anthony Nero drove to Norristown armed with his .45 caliber handgun.
He pointed his anger toward the local outlet of his perceived enemy, the Democratic Party, firing three shots into its Montgomery County branch office before speeding away. No one was injured.
Almost exactly a year later, Nero, 48, stood before a federal judge in Philadelphia on Wednesday and entered a guilty plea to threatening communications and cyberstalking for promising to “shoot up” the office weeks before doing just that.
Nero, of Eagleville, said little during the hearing, answering U.S. District Judge Karen S. Marston’s questions succinctly, saying that “unfortunately” the facts of the case were accurate as she relayed them.
His attorney, Timothy Woodward, said afterward that Nero is “extremely remorseful for his actions.”
“I can’t help but think the climate in our country at the time of the offense and rhetoric coming from elected officials had a profound effect on him and contributed to his actions that day,” Woodward said.
On Jan. 6, 2021, the same day that hundreds of former President Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol in Washington, Nero sent a Facebook message to a friend saying he was “going to go find a local Democrat office and shoot it up,” authorities said.
The following afternoon, investigators in Montgomery County said, Nero sent an email to the county Democratic Party, warning them to “beef up security” at the Norristown office because “random acts of violence are difficult to investigate.”
“With this stolen election and coup d’etat, violence is the only language you bloodsuckers understand,” Nero wrote in the email, which he signed “Silent Majority.”
On Jan. 20, authorities allege in court paperwork, Nero made good on his threat, driving to the party’s office on East Airy Street at 12:30 a.m. and firing three rounds through its front window, striking a wooden desk inside. Later, using the IP address from the cell phone used to send the email, detectives traced the message back to Nero, who owns a gun matching the caliber of the one used in the shooting, according to court filings.
After initially denying his involvement in the shooting during an interview with Norristown detectives, Nero eventually admitted he was responsible for both the threats and the gunfire, saying he was going through a stressful time in his life due to “losing [his] family, this whole COVID thing shutting down the country [and] the abundant evidence available relating to the theft of the election,” according to court filings.
Nero is scheduled to be sentenced on April 14. He faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in federal prison for the two offenses, according to Marston.