July 17, 2018 - 11:09 am
Updated July 18, 2018 - 10:11 am
KINGMAN, Ariz. — An Arizona judge raised bail to $1 million on Tuesday for a Henderson man facing terrorism charges for using an armored vehicle to block a bridge near the Hoover Dam.
The ruling by Judge Billy Sipe came in response to a defense motion asking him to lower the $25,000 bond for Matthew Wright, 30, in connection with the June 15 incident. His public defenders noted that Wright had no known previous criminal history and could reside with an aunt and uncle in Phoenix and commute to Kingman for hearings while his case is pending.
But Sipe saw things differently, proclaiming Wright a danger to the public and questioning his mental stability.
“I find that $25,000 is an extremely low bond for these type of cases,” Sipe said, making comparisons to the Oct. 1 massacre in Las Vegas last fall and other deadly shootings at schools and churches across the nation. “I am gravely concerned with his conduct.”
The judge also noted handwritten letters that Wright arranged to be sent from jail to President Donald Trump, members of Nevada’s congressional delegation and local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. He told Wright the communications certainly put him on the radar of the Secret Service, if he hadn’t been there already.
The letters bore the motto of a right-wing conspiracy group known as QAnon.
Wright, sporting a handlebar mustache after having shaved the beard he had when he was arrested, sat still and listened intently during the hearing and had only a couple of quiet exchanges with his attorneys.
Authorities say Wright parked his homemade armored vehicle on the O’Callaghan-Tillman Memorial Bridge, triggering a 90-minute barricade situation before he drove south into Arizona and was arrested after his vehicle was disabled. No one was injured in the incident, but police found an AR-15 rifle, a handgun and several magazines of ammunition in the vehicle.
Sipe noted that conviction on the terrorism charge would bring a minimum 10-year sentence and that possible punishment ranged up to life in prison. Wright is also charged with aggravated assault, unlawful flight and two counts of misconduct involving weapons.