One of Charlottesville’s more notorious social media stars and frequent arrestees intends to fight an attempt to evict him from his Downtown Mall office. Bryan Michael Silva, also known as the “gratata” guy, wants to stick with his lease of office space, according to statements made Tuesday afternoon in Charlottesville General District Court.
“He said he’s paid all the rent and that he doesn’t understand why he would be asked to leave,” said Doris Gelbman, who is serving as a guardian ad litem— an intermediary for one who can’t be present.
“The biggest issue for us is the safety and security of the building,” countered the landlord’s lawyer, Randall Purdue.
Court records show that Purdue sent certified mail on Sept. 7, just eight days into the lease, alleging that Silva had defaulted. The alleged transgressions included parking vehicles on the premises and keeping a set of keys that he had not leased as well as failing to obtain business insurance.
The parking issue eventually escalated, according to people familiar with the matter, who, concerned with reprisal, spoke on condition of anonymity. The people said that Silva parked his Porsche in someone else’s parking space so many times that the renter of that space told Silva that he’d have to start towing the Porsche.
“I’m gonna (expletive) kill you,” Silva allegedly told the man, according to a witness to the encounter.
That encounter led that man to obtain a protective order that bars Silva from further contact.
Also in mid-October, the landlord, the Joe H. Gieck Trust, filed eviction papers.
The eviction hearing was set for Charlottesville General District Court on Nov. 15. However, that date was just one day after Silva was arrested and held without bail for felony possession of a controlled substance and possession of firearms or ammunition by a convicted felon.The eviction case was continued, and Silva remains jailed.
While neither criminal charge related directly to the day-earlier triple-fatal mass shooting at the University of Virginia, Silva appeared to have brought himself to the attention of police through his online postings on the day of the killings.
Several hours before the Nov. 13 murders of three UVa student athletes coming back from a field trip, Silva posted on social media that he wanted to bring “pain and suffering” to the university.
Silva also recently posted video of himself caressing ammunition. As a convicted felon, he’s forbidden from possessing such materials, so various citizens began tagging police in social media statements of their own.
Charlottesville Police then obtained a search warrant for Silva’s Downtown Mall office. The Nov. 14 raid resulted in the two criminal charges, plus the CPD reported serving an outstanding protective order issued by the Albemarle County General District Court.
In June, the 31-year-old Silva was convicted of stalking a female UVa student. The court file in that case shows that she sought a protective order against him.
Often called a “restraining order,” a protective order typically prohibits contact under penalty of law. In Virginia, such orders are not available for public inspection but are instead registered by the State Police and made available to criminal justice agencies such as law enforcement.
Silva’s felony conviction stemmed from a January, 2016, incident where he barricaded himself in a Jefferson Park Avenue-area apartment after pointing a gun at a 17-year-old girlfriend that he’d met online. During the barricade, which shut down JPA for about nine hours, Silva spent the time recording— and posting— videos. He later pleaded guilty to two charges including brandishing a firearm and served nearly two years in jail.
Silva’s flirtation with fame began in 2014 when the then 23-year-old Silva uploaded a six-second video to the now-defunct Vine platform. There, shirtless and gunless, he recited a violent rhyme and pointed a finger pantomiming a handgun toward a bathroom mirror while saying “gratata,” a phonetic representation of a machine gun.
At 223 W. Main, the building where Silva has been renting, fellow office tenants say that Silva appeared to be pursuing his career in social media by shooting videos there.
In court Tuesday, Dec. 13, Judge Andrew Sneathern said that he would be amenable either to Silva representing himself at the eviction hearing or to hiring a lawyer. Sneathern also said that if Silva remains incarcerated at the time of the hearing, a video link could give him access to the courtroom. Sneathern set a hearing date of March 13.