Family raises money online for ‘exceptional’ son charged in Jan. 6 riot

A Milton teenager charged with some of the most serious crimes in the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riot is raising money for his defense on a Christian fundraising platform that has become a home for accused Capitol rioters.

The account for Bruno Cua, 19, on the fundraising site GiveSendGo has raised more than $20,000 from dozens of donors, some of whom refer to Cua as a patriot or a persecuted Christian. Others repeat conspiracy theories or ask for charges to be dropped based on discredited claims that Cua and others arrested in the Jan. 6 attacks were set up by the government.

“Proud of you, Bruno!” one anonymous donor wrote. “Thank you for being a great patriot! We stand with you.”

“Keep up the Good fight of Faith. God is still on the throne,” another wrote.

In family updates on the site, Cua is described as an “exceptional” teenager and devout Christian who “was caught up in the frenzy of mob mentality” on Jan. 6 and now speaks to youth groups “about the dangers of social media, making impulsive decisions and listening to one’s parents.”

Cua faces more than a dozen criminal charges, including assaulting a police officer and carrying a deadly weapon into the Capitol. Cua is the youngest defendant to be charged in the pro-Trump riot and he is one of the relative handful of accused insurrectionists to make it onto the floor of the Senate.

In the FBI's criminal complaint against 18-year-old Bruno Cua of Milton, Cua is identified in a U.S. Capitol surveillance video swinging what appears to be a baton.

Credit: USAO/FBI

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Credit: USAO/FBI

His trip through the Capitol was captured on video by multiple sources, including a security camera outside the Senate chamber that shows Cua, with what appears to be a metal baton in his right hand, twice shoving a man identified by prosecutors as a Capitol Police officer. The officer eventually retreats, after which Cua and several others enter the Senate.

According to court records, Cua spent the weeks leading up to the Jan. 6 “Stop the Steal” rally posting to conservative social media site Parler urging violent opposition to the November 2020 presidential election.

“They know they cannot control us if we are armed and dangerous!” he wrote in one such post. “Do not back down and do not be discouraged. Show up and be ready to fight. This really is our #1776.”

Cua’s family set a fundraising goal of $350,000, stating they had “exhausted their resources.” About a quarter of the more than 725 people charged in the attack have accepted plea deals, most pleading to less serious misdemeanor offenses.

So far only six of the 225 defendants charged with assaulting or impeding police officers during the riot have pleaded guilty. A Nov. 22 family update said the plea offer given to Cua “was not acceptable.”

“This means the battle for Bruno’s freedom continues,” the update reads.

Cua has been out on bond since he was released from custody in March, but he has to wear a GPS ankle monitor and has been largely confined to his family’s large North Fulton home and acreage. According to the GiveSendGo page, Cua earned his GED since his arrest and has been working on home improvement projects for friends and neighbors while waiting for his day in court.

If the case goes to trial, Cua faces the possibility of a decade or more behind bars. In a hearing last week, prosecutors said they are still discussing a possible plea with Cua, but they gave no indication of progress.

GiveSendGo, which did not respond to a request for comment for this report, describes itself as a “place to work together with the body of Christ around the world to make a difference,” but it’s become a significant source of money for Jan. 6 defendants. According to a recent investigation by The Guardian newspaper, defendants have raised more than $2 million on the site.

Melanie Vaughn-West, pastor at Oakhurst Baptist Church in Decatur, said pairing of Christianity with the Jan. 6 riot is another troubling example of what critics decry as “Christian Nationalism,” or the idea that the United States is a specifically Christian nation and that the government should reflect that rather than observe the Constitutional separation of church and state.

The concept of Christian Nationalism is antithetical to the teachings of Jesus Christ, Vaughn-West said. Jesus espoused nonviolence and an acceptance of all peoples, even while living under the oppressive rule of the Roman Empire, she said.

“It’s very concerning. I think we’ve somehow taken the way of Jesus and what Jesus was talking about and connecting it to something that is the opposite of what Jesus stood for,” she said.

No trial date has been set for Cua. He is one of 17 defendants from Georgia to have been charged in the Jan. 6 riot.