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FBI says Charlottesville operation was 'court-authorized' but offers few other details

The FBI is providing few details regarding an “operation” that saw armored and armed agents swarm Charlottesville’s Martha Jefferson neighborhood Tuesday and remove a small child from a residence.

The flurry of activity began Tuesday afternoon, continued into the evening and was still ongoing at press time.

The federal law enforcement agency called the operation “court-authorized law enforcement activity” and said that there is no present threat to public safety.

Roughly 15 agents were on the scene on St. Charles Avenue as of 2 p.m., accompanied by multiple unmarked cars and one Charlottesville police vehicle. Most of the agents in the area were in tactical gear, with bulletproof vests, helmets and AR-15s. One military-style truck was parked directly in front of a residence on the street’s 800 block.

One bystander told The Daily Progress he heard a loud bang inside the residence before agents entered the building through a side door around 2:30 p.m.

Agents remained in the house for several minutes before emerging around 2:43 p.m. carrying an infant wrapped in a jacket. An agent handed the child to a woman who was standing on the roadside, who then placed the child in an unmarked vehicle.

The stretch of St. Charles Avenue where agents were operating Tuesday was cut off to the public, with vehicles, marked and unmarked, blocking the street’s entrance from the Route 250 Bypass. Members of the media, neighbors and other bystanders spent hours gathered on a grassy median between the street and the bypass.

Charlottesville police told The Daily Progress that the local police department was cooperating with federal authorities, but that the FBI was leading the operation.

The federal agency confirmed this but provided no more details Tuesday.

“We are conducting court-authorized law enforcement activity in the area,” FBI spokeswoman Leslie McClane told The Daily Progress via email. “There are no threats to the public associated with this activity. Unfortunately, that’s all I can confirm at this time.”

McClane did not offer any estimate on when the operation would conclude.


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