By Judy L. Thomas | Kansas City Star
A retired Pennsylvania firefighter. Two off-duty Virginia police officers. An Olympic gold medalist, a man who carried a handful of zip ties and one who allegedly had 11 Molotov cocktails and an assault rifle in his pickup.
They are among the dozens facing federal charges in the aftermath of the deadly Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol as supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the building in an effort to stop the certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.
Many were tracked down after posting videos and photos on social media. One was turned in by his ex-wife, others by co-workers or acquaintances.
And a man who made it into the Senate chamber told authorities that he went to the Capitol because “they stole my country” and that once inside, “I pled the blood of Jesus on the Senate floor,” court documents show.
As authorities continue to conduct interviews, scour social media and gather tips in search of others involved in the first breach of the Capitol since 1814, they’re also warning that there could be more violence at protests across the country in the coming days and weeks.
Those charged so far are from at least 26 states and the District of Columbia, according to court documents: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
Among those charged was Robert Sanford, a retired Pennsylvania firefighter who allegedly threw a fire extinguisher that struck three officers.
Video footage showed a large group of police officers surrounded on at least three sides by a group of insurrectionists, according to the criminal complaint affidavit. In the video, a man is seen stepping over a short wall with a red object in his hands.
“Immediately after stepping over the short wall, the subject draws the red object, which appears to be a fire extinguisher, back in his right hand and then hurls the object at the group of police officers,” the affidavit said.
“The object appears to strike one officer, who was wearing a helmet, in the head. The object then ricochets and strikes another officer, who was not wearing a helmet, in the head. The object then ricochets a third time and strikes a third officer, wearing a helmet, in the head. Immediately after throwing the object, the Subject moves quickly in the opposite direction.”
Capitol Police Officer William Young said that while attempting to control the crowd, he felt a hard strike to the back of his helmet.
“When he turned to see where the blow had originated, Officer Young saw a fire extinguisher on the ground but could not determine who had struck him,” the document said. “Officer Young was subsequently evaluated at a hospital and cleared to return to duty.”
On Jan. 12, someone contacted the FBI in Pennsylvania and said Sanford had confessed that he was the person they were looking for.
According to the person who called the FBI, Sanford had gone to Washington, D.C., on a bus with a group of Trump supporters, the court document said.
“The group had gone to the White House and listened to President Donald J. Trump’s speech and then had followed the President’s instructions and gone to the Capitol,” it said.
Cleveland Grover Meredith Jr., of Colorado, was charged with making an interstate threat against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, possession of an unregistered firearm and unlawful possession of ammunition.
Agents learned that Meredith was likely in the Washington, D.C., area, and that he allegedly had firearms and ammunition, according to the complaint affidavit. FBI agents contacted him at a hotel there on Jan. 7. He said he’d arrived there from Colorado too late for the rally on Jan. 6.
The document said Meredith admitted to sending text messages to friends and showed some of them to the agents. One, sent Jan. 6, said: “Headed to DC with a s— ton of 5.56 armor piercing ammo (purple devil emoji).”
On Jan. 7, in a text to the same person, he wrote: “Thinking about heading over to Pelosi c—’s speech and putting a bullet in her noggin on Live TV (purple devil emoji).” When the recipient chastised him for the comment, the document said, he replied: “Psychological warfare. I’ve been on the radar for a while now, they know I’m harmless.”
During a search of his hotel room, the affidavit said, “Agents seized a box of suspected THC edibles and a vial of Testosterone Cypionate/Propionate.” A search of his trailer found a 9 mm pistol, an assault rifle and “approximately hundreds of rounds of ammunition,” it said. A later court filing put the number of ammunition rounds at 2,500 and said that included 320 armor-piercing rounds.
Richard Barnett, of Gravette, Arkansas, also known as “Bigo,” is the man photos show with his feet propped up on a desk in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office, the federal complaint affidavit alleged.
Another photo depicts Barnett holding an envelope in his left hand addressed to “The Honorable Billy Long,” a Republican congressman from southwest Missouri.
The document said that in a video of Barnett speaking to the media after the riot, he was asked how he obtained the envelope.
Barnett said: “I did not steal it. I bled on it because they were macing me and I couldn’t f—— see so I figured I am in her office. I got blood on her office. I put a quarter on her desk even though she ain’t f—— worth it. And I left her a note on her desk that says ‘Nancy, Bigo was here, you Bitch.’”
The affidavit said authorities received a tip on Jan. 11 that Barnett had been carrying a stun gun. They reviewed the photographs and said the tip was determined to be accurate. The stun gun, it said, was tucked into his pants.
Joshua Matthew Black, of Leeds, Alabama, faces charges of violent entry of a restricted building or grounds and disorderly conduct.
The complaint affidavit said he described in a YouTube video what it was like when he entered the Capitol.
“Once we found out Pence turned on us and that they had stolen the election, like officially, the crowd went crazy,” the document quotes Black as saying. “I mean, it became a mob. We crossed the gate.”
Once inside the building, Black said on the video, he “found a little spot, and there was a glass door, and it said ‘US Senate’ on it. I said I need to get in there. I just felt like the spirit of God wanted me to go in the Senate room, you know. So I was about to break the glass and I thought, no, this is our house, we don’t act like that. I was tempted to, I’m not gonna lie. Cause I’m pretty upset. You know? They stole my country.”
Later on the video, the document said, Black described what he did in the Senate chamber: “I had accomplished my goal. I pled the blood of Jesus on the Senate floor. You know. I praised the name of Jesus on the Senate floor. That was my goal. I think that was God’s goal.”
Black also said that he was carrying a knife, but “I wasn’t planning on pulling it.”
Jacob Anthony Chansley, also known as Jake Angeli and “QAnon Shaman,” was the most visible of the rioters, seen roaming the Capitol building and standing on the dais in the Senate chamber wearing a bearskin headdress with horns, red, white and blue face paint, no shirt and tan pants and carrying a six-foot-long spear with an American flag tied just below the blade.
Chansley called the FBI’s Washington, D.C., field office on Jan. 7 and talked to an agent, the complaint affidavit said. It said Chansley “confirmed that he was the male in the face paint and headdress in the Vice President’s chair in the Senate.”
“Chansley stated that he came as a part of a group effort, with other ‘patriots’ from Arizona, at the request of the President that all ‘patriots’ come to D.C. on January 6, 2021,” according to the document.
Another court document, filed Thursday by federal prosecutors in Arizona, referred to Chansley as “a poster child for QAnon” and argued that he should be detained until his trial.
Prosecutors said that “Chansley ran up on the dais where Vice President Pence had been presiding just minutes before, and begin posing on the dais for other rioters to document and photograph, and wrote a note to Vice President saying, ‘it’s only a matter of time, justice is coming.’”
When U.S. Capitol Police were conducting a sweep of the area on Jan. 6 in response to reports of explosive devices, they noticed the handle of what looked like a firearm on the passenger seat of a red GMC pickup with Alabama plates. The pickup was registered to Lonnie L. Coffman of Falkville, Alabama.
A search of the truck found a handgun and one M4 Carbine assault rifle along with rifle magazines loaded with ammunition, according to the affidavit in support of the complaint filed against Coffman. It said officers also found 11 mason jars containing an unknown liquid with a golf tee in the top of each jar, cloth rags, and lighters.
Bomb technicians said the items appeared to be components for Molotov cocktails.
When officers detained Coffman, they discovered he had a 9 mm handgun in one pocket and a .22-caliber handgun in his left pocket, the document alleged.
It also said Coffman told authorities that the mason jars contained melted Styrofoam and gasoline, which an explosives expert said “has the effect of napalm” in that “it causes the flammable liquid to better stick to objects that it hits upon detonation.”
Off-duty Virginia police officers Thomas Robertson and Jacob Fracker were photographed inside the Capitol “making an obscene statement in front of a statute of John Stark,” court records alleged.
The two worked for the Rocky Mount Police Department in Rocky Mount, Virginia. In social media posts, the complaint affidavit said, Robertson is quoted as saying, “The right IN ONE DAY took the f***** U.S. Capitol” and that he was “proud” of the photo in an Instagram Post that was shared to Facebook, because he was “willing to put skin in the game.”
The document said a now-deleted Facebook post by Fracker had the caption, “Lol to anyone who’s possibly concerned about the picture of me going around… Sorry I hate freedom? …Not like I did anything illegal…y’all do what you feel you need to…”
Robertson told Newsweek that he and Fracker had sent the photo to their police department colleagues.
Douglas Austin Jensen, of Des Moines, Iowa, is an adherent of QAnon, according to court documents. Dressed in a “Q” T-shirt, Jensen was among the first in the crowd to force his way into the Capitol.
The affidavit said that video footage showed Jensen leading the crowd toward a lone Capitol Police officer in a menacing manner. He chased the officer up the stairs, it said, shouting at the officer as the crowd followed.
“The officer was able to retreat to an area occupied by several additional Capitol Police officers, at which point the officers were able to stop Jensen and the rest of the crowd from advancing,” the document said.
Jensen turned himself in to Des Moines police on Jan. 8. He told an FBI agent “that he intentionally positioned himself to be among the first people inside the United States Capitol because he was wearing his ‘Q’ T-shirt and he wanted to have his T-shirt seen on video so that ‘Q’ could ‘get the credit,’” according to the court document.
On Jan. 8, a woman called the FBI National Threat Operations Center to report that she recognized the man in a photo who was wearing a military-style helmet, khaki pants, gray and black fatigues over a military vest and a patch from his military service.
The man, she said, was Larry Rendall Brock of Texas. She was his ex-wife.
“The witness said that ‘I just know that when I saw this was happening I was afraid he would be there,’” the affidavit alleged.
Another witness contacted the FBI to report that Brock, an Air Force veteran, was the man in tactical gear and holding flex-cuffs in his hand in a widely circulated picture taken inside the Capitol.
About the picture, the witness wrote: “It looks like him and he has pilot wings on his chest in this picture. He was an A-10 pilot.”
Klete Derik Keller, of Colorado, was charged with obstructing law enforcement engaged in official duties, unlawfully entering the Capitol grounds, and violent entry and disorderly conduct.
Court documents said a video showed a man later identified as Keller in the Capitol Rotunda wearing a dark jacket with “USA” in white printed letters on the back, and photos depicted what appeared to be a red and white Olympic patch on the front left side of the jacket.
Officers repeatedly attempted to remove him and others, the complaint affidavit alleged.
“Open-source research revealed that Keller is a three-time Olympic athlete and Olympic Gold Medalist, and Person 1 appears to be wearing a United States Olympic Team jacket in the video showing him in the Rotunda,” it said.
Keller’s height was a factor in determining his identity, according to the document. The man in the pictures appeared to be one of the tallest people in the Rotunda, it said.
Keller is 6-foot-6.
A Utah man who was charged Thursday with illegally entering the Capitol “is the leader of an organization called Insurgence USA through which he organizes protests,” the complaint affidavit alleged.
It said that John Earle Sullivan was charged in Provo, Utah, in July with rioting and criminal mischief based on his activities at a June 30 protest in which a civilian was shot and injured. That event was held to protest police brutality.
And video obtained of a previous protest in Washington, D.C., it said, showed Sullivan telling a crowd that “we about to burn this s— down,” “we got to rip Trump out of office . . . f—— pull him out of that s— . . . we ain’t waiting until the next election . . . we about to go get that (expletive deleted).” Sullivan then can be seen leading the crowd in a chant of, “it’s time for a revolution,” the document said.
According to Thursday’s complaint, Sullivan — wearing a ballistics vest and gas mask — entered the Capitol through a window that had been broken, then pushed past police.
Sullivan claimed to be an activist and journalist who filmed protests and riots, the affidavit said, but admitted that he had no press credentials. During an interview with an FBI agent, Sullivan showed the agent the footage he had taken.
The document said the video showed the crowd breaking through the barricades and entering the Capitol.
“Sullivan can be heard in the video saying at various points: “There are so many people. Let’s go. This s— is ours! F— yeah,” “We accomplished this s—. We did this together. F— yeah! We are all a part of this history,” and “Let’s burn this s— down.”
The video included footage of people breaking out the glass from the windows in the doors leading into the Speaker’s Lobby, then a gun is heard being discharged by a Capitol Police officer from within the Speaker’s Lobby, according to the affidavit. A woman is seen falling back into the crowd. She was later identified as Ashli Babbitt, who was fatally injured.
Sullivan told reporters that Insurgence USA was a social justice group that is anti-fascist and protests police brutality but denied that he was associated with antifa.
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