This is the Federal Courthouse in downtown Pittsburgh on Monday April 24, 2023. The long-delayed capital murder trial of Robert Bowers accused in the 2018 Pittsburgh synagogue massacre will begin with jury selection beginning April 24, 2023, at the Federal Courthouse in Pittsburgh, a federal judge has ruled. Bowers, a Baldwin resident who has pleaded not guilty, could be sentenced to death if convicted of the shootings. He faces more than 60 federal charges stemming from the Oct. 27, 2018, attack at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh that killed 11 worshippers in the deadliest attack on Jewish people in U.S. history. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
White supremacist charged with threatening jurors, witnesses in Pittsburgh synagogue shooting trial
A West Virginia-based white supremacist was arrested Thursday and charged with alleged witness tampering and obstruction of justice related to the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting trial.
Hardy Carroll Lloyd, who has previously lived in Crafton, has also been accused of calling for violence against all Jewish people in dozens of emails and blog posts laden with vulgarities throughout the trial.
Federal investigators have also connected Lloyd to dozens of antisemitic stickers and flyers placed throughout predominantly Jewish areas of Pittsburgh during the trial.
“Threats of violence used to intimidate or influence a community or jury cannot and will not be tolerated,” said FBI Pittsburgh Special Agent in Charge Mike Nordwall. “In this case, the Jewish community was specifically targeted by these threats.”
Lloyd was taken into custody early Thursday at his home in Follansbee, W.V., less than an hour outside Pittsburgh.
He’s accused of attempting to intimidate and influence witnesses and jurors in the case against Pittsburgh synagogue shooter Robert Bowers. Bowers was convicted and sentenced to death last week for killing 11 Jewish worshippers and injuring six others in 2018.
According to the criminal complaint, Lloyd called for so-called “lone wolves” to target synagogues and Jewish people in a series of emails and blog posts.
“We need a TREE OF LIFE shooting every month,” one email reads. In others, Lloyd describes a plan to obtain the names of the jury “to check to see who voted against” Bowers. Some emails included images of guns and other graphic material.
The criminal complaint also details Lloyd’s other online activity, including social media comments calling for the death of Jewish, transgender, and Black people. He is charged with obstruction of justice, transmitting threats in interstate and foreign commerce, and witness tampering. He could face up to 20 years in prison, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.
Lloyd’s arrest is the culmination of months of work by multiple agencies including the FBI in Pittsburgh, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of West Virginia, the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh and the Secure Community Network.
“The offender in this case targeted the Jewish community for years with hate, vitriol, and calls for violence. He is well known to the Jewish community,” said Michael Masters, National Director and CEO of the Secure Action Network. “He is also well known to the security professionals at the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh and SCN, and to the members of law enforcement. He can now become well known — once again — to those in our penal system.”
According to Shawn Brokos, the director of community security for the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, her organization and the Secure Community Network have been monitoring Lloyd’s activities and those of dozens of other white supremacists throughout the trial. The groups monitor several hundred white supremacists nationwide, Brokos added.
“There are individuals out there who were very much in support of [Bowers]… who side with his white supremacy views,” Brokos said. “Hardy Lloyd certainly was one of the individuals who we had a very close eye on.”
She added that Pittsburgh residents reported hundreds of sightings of antisemitic flyers in several neighborhoods including Stanton Heights and Squirrel Hill. (Lloyd later took credit for those materials in emails sent to multiple news outlets.)
The arrest “would not have happened if not for the diligence of our Pittsburgh community, not just the Jewish community,” Brokos said. “It is really the efforts of the community that fueled this investigation.”
Brokos said that although some of Lloyd’s emails, blog posts and flyers are protected under the First Amendment, direct calls to action and targeted threats can be a different matter.
“In this case, we have to look at it in totality and look at his history of violence and his history of threats,” she added.
Lloyd, who grew up in Pittsburgh, has a lengthy criminal history of making violent threats and illegally possessing weapons.
He is the self-appointed “reverend” of the hate group known as the Church of Ben Klassen, which adheres to the so-called “Creativity Movement.” Klassen, a one-time member of the Florida House of Representatives, formed the white supremacist movement in the ’70s.
Lloyd was charged in the 2004 fatal shooting of his former girlfriend, Lori Hann, in Pittsburgh. His defense attorney argued he killed Hann in self-defense, and a jury acquitted him in 2006 of a homicide charge. But he was convicted of illegally possessing a handgun.
In 2009, he was indicted on federal gun charges to which he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release. A judge later modified that release to bar Lloyd from having a device with internet access after he wrote violent blog posts.
Then in 2016, Lloyd’s release was revoked after he was charged with harassment by the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police. Following that, Lloyd began a cycle of violating the terms of his release, getting sentenced to more prison time followed by supervised release.
He was most recently released in 2020 and then surfaced in Texas, where he is still wanted on charges of making terroristic threats in 2022. Lloyd allegedly made comments online threatening to bring a gun to the state Capitol.
A federal judge in West Virginia will determine next Tuesday whether Lloyd should remain detained before trial.
Having Lloyd behind bars for any length of time will afford Pittsburgh’s Jewish community, which has “already been through so much strife and heartache … a sense of peace,” Brokos said.
After the traumatic experience of the trial of Robert Bowers, Brokos said the community can take a breath now that Lloyd is behind bars too.
“This is just one more chapter that we’re hoping to close for now,” she said.