“We’ve been battling this for about three days,” Mathison said. “The phone rings off the hook now.”
Meredith attracted attention in metro Atlanta in 2018 when he erected a billboard, complete with the former name and logo of the business, on Cobb Parkway in Acworth espousing QAnon, a baseless and debunked conspiracy theory that holds Democrats and Hollywood elites are part of a secret cabal that snatches children to sexually exploit and kill for a supposed youth-regenerating chemical.
QAnon adherents believe President Donald Trump is in at war against the cabal, and some apparently saw this past week’s riot as a part of Trump’s planned takedown of the cabal.
ExploreCobb car wash put up billboard linking business to QAnon conspiracy
Meredith is one of a handful of Georgians who have been identified and charged so far following the riot. Buford resident Grant Moore is charged by U.S. Capitol Police with carrying a pistol without a license and having unregistered ammunition, according to a Jan. 7 news release from the agency.
The DC Metro police charged Alpharetta resident Christopher Georgia with unlawful entry and curfew violation, according to its spreadsheet that lists the arrest its officers made related to the riot. He was found dead in his home Saturday. The Fulton County Medical Examiner determined Georgia took his own life.
Eric Gavelek Munchel of Tennessee, a former Georgia resident believed to be the man who brought zip ties into the U.S. Capitol, also faces federal charges of knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority and one count of violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.
Mathison said he stresses to anyone who calls that Meredith has not been involved with the car wash since 2019. He also went on NextDoor, a social media app that allows residents to post items for sale and information about activity in their neighborhoods, to make sure users know that Meredith has no ties with the current owners. He said bad online reviews have come from all over the country, as well as from Ontario, Canada.
He said he’s reaching out to Google and other websites where people can rate businesses to communicate the company’s situation. He also said he’s talked with local churches, stakeholders and charities to warn them that they may read the news about Meredith and his past association with the car wash.
“We’re just trying to run a small business, and the bad reviews and bad ratings are detrimental,” he said, adding the car wash business is competitive in the north metro Atlanta area.
ExploreGeorgia attorney among those who broke into U.S. Capitol
According to federal agents, Meredith is accused of sending a text message that threatened to put “a bullet in (Pelosi’s) noggin on Live TV” and another where he said he was going to Washington for the rally with armor-piercing bullets. The report notes that car trouble prevented Meredith from arriving in time for the pro-Trump rally, but he continued to Washington anyway.
Meredith was found Thursday by FBI agents at a Washington, D.C., hotel. According to the federal report, Meredith consented to a search and agents allegedly found an assault rifle, handguns, “hundreds of rounds of ammunition” and the threatening messages.
Mathison said people are receptive to his explanations, so he hopes that the negative calls and reviews will stop.
“We don’t condone those actions,” Mathison said of Meredith’s alleged involvement. “Not just by him, but anyone.”
Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporters Ben Brasch and Chris Joyner contributed to this report.