“Big protest in D.C. on January 6th,” Trump tweeted a week before Christmas. “Be there, will be wild!”
The insurrectionist mob that showed up at the president’s behest and stormed the U.S. Capitol was overwhelmingly made up of longtime Trump supporters, including Republican Party officials, GOP political donors, far-right militants, white supremacists, off-duty police, members of the military and adherents of the QAnon myth that the government is secretly controlled by a cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophile cannibals. Records show that some were heavily armed and included convicted criminals, such as a Florida man recently released from prison for attempted murder.
The Associated Press reviewed social media posts, voter registrations, court files and other public records for more than 120 people either facing criminal charges related to the Jan. 6 unrest or who, going maskless during the pandemic, were later identified through photographs and videos taken during the melee.
The evidence gives lie to claims by right-wing pundits and Republican officials such as Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., that the violence was perpetrated by left-wing antifa thugs rather than supporters of the president
So far, at least 90 people have been arrested on charges ranging from misdemeanor curfew violations to felonies related to assaults on police officers, possessing illegal weapons and making death threats against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
Among them was Lonnie Leroy Coffman, 70, an Alabama grandfather who drove to Washington to attend Trump’s “Save America Rally” in a red GMC Sierra pickup packed with an M4 assault rifle, multiple loaded magazines, three handguns and 11 Mason jars filled with homemade napalm, according to court filings.The truck was found during a security sweep involving explosives-sniffing dogs after two pipe bombs were found and disarmed Wednesday near the national headquarters of the Republican and Democratic parties. Federal officials said Coffman is not suspected of planting the pipe bombs, though he was charged with having Molotov cocktails in the bed of his truck.
His grandson, Brandon Coffman, told the AP on Friday his grandfather was a Republican who had expressed admiration for Trump at holiday gatherings. He said he had no idea why Coffman would show up in the nation’s capital armed for civil war.
Also facing federal charges is Cleveland Grover Meredith Jr., a Georgia man who in the wake of the election had protested outside the home of Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, whom Trump had publicly blamed for his loss in the state....“Headed to DC with a (s—-) ton of 5.56 armor-piercing ammo,” he texted friends and relatives on Jan. 6, adding a purple devil emoji, according to court filings. The following day, he texted to the group: “Thinking about heading over to Pelosi (C——’s) speech and putting a bullet in her noggin on Live TV.” ... “I’m gonna run that (C—-) Pelosi over while she chews on her gums. … Dead (B——) Walking. I predict that within 12 days, many in our country will die.” Meredith, who is white, then texted a photo of himself in blackface. “I’m gonna walk around DC FKG with people by yelling ‘Allahu ak Bar’ randomly.”
FBI, who tracked Meredith to a Holiday Inn a short walk from the Capitol. They found a compact Tavor X95 assault rifle, a 9mm Glock 19 handgun and about 100 rounds of ammunition, according to court filing
The Trump supporters who died in the riot were Kevin D. Greeson, 55, of Athens, Alabama; Benjamin Philips, 50, of Ringtown, Pennsylvania; Ashli Babbitt, 35, of San Diego; and Rosanne Boyland, 34, of Kennesaw, Georgia.Boyland’s sister told the AP on Friday she was an adherent of the QAnon conspiracy theory that holds Trump is America’s savior. Her Facebook page featured photos and videos praising Trump and promoting fantasies, including one theory that a shadowy group was using the coronavirus to steal elections.
The AP’s review found that QAnon beliefs were common among those who heeded Trump’s call to come to Washington.
Doug Jensen, 41, was arrested by the FBI on Friday in Des Moines, Iowa, after returning home from the riot. An AP photographer captured images of him confronting Capitol Police officers outside of the Senate chamber on Wednesday.Jensen was wearing a black T-shirt emblazoned with a large Q and the phrase “Trust The Plan,” a reference to QAnon.. Jensen believed that the person posting as Q was either Trump or someone very close to the president.
Tara Coleman, a 40-year-old mother who lives in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, was arrested at the Capitol for a curfew violation and for unlawful entry. On her Facebook page, Coleman re-posted articles supporting the QAnon beliefs about a “deep state” conspiracy to target children.
And Jake Chansley, who calls himself the “QAnon Shaman” and has long been a fixture at Trump rallies, surrendered to the FBI field office in Phoenix on Saturday. News photos show him at the riot shirtless, with his face painted and wearing a fur hat with horns, carrying a U.S. flag attached to a wooden pole topped with a spear. The FBI identified Chansley by his distinctive tattoos, which include bricks circling his biceps in an apparent reference to Trump’s border wall.
Army commanders at Fort Bragg in North Carolina are investigating Capt. Emily Rainey’s involvement in the Wednesday rally. The 30-year-old psychological operations officer told the AP she led 100 members of Moore County Citizens for Freedom who traveled to Washington to “stand against election fraud” and support Trump.
The insurrectionist mob also included members of the neofascist group known as the Proud Boys, whom Trump urged to “stand back and stand by” when asked to condemn them by a moderator during a presidential debate in September.
Also arrested at the Capitol was William Arthur Leary, who owns a manufactured housing business in Utica, New York. In an interview Friday, Leary told the AP that he strongly believes the election was stolen from Trump and that he went to Washington to show his support.
Leary said he doesn’t trust information reported by the mainstream media and that one of his main sources of information was Infowars, the far-right conspiracy site run by Alex Jones.
Leary said he remembers seeing a woman, Kristina Malimon, 28, sobbing at the detention center because she had been separated and not allowed to translate for her mother, who primarily speaks Russian. Malimon, who traveled to D.C. from Portland, Oregon, is vice chairwoman of the Young Republicans of Oregon, according to the group’s website and is also listed as an “ambassador” for the pro-Trump group Turning Point USA. Her social media feeds are full of photos taken at Trump events, including the earlier “Million MAGA March” held in Washington last month. She also posted photos of herself posing with Donald Trump Jr. and Roger Stone,
Brad Rukstales, a Republican political donor and CEO of Cogensia, a Chicago-based data analytics firm, was arrested with a group of a half-dozen Trump supporters who clashed with officers Wednesday inside the Capitol. Campaign finance reports show Rukstales contributed more than $25,000 to Trump’s campaign and other GOP committees during to 2020 election cycle.
Derrick Evans, a Republican recently sworn in as a delegate to the West Virginia House, resigned Saturday following his arrest on two charges related to the Capitol riot. He had streamed video of himself charging into the building with the mob. “The door is cracked! … We’re in, we’re in! Derrick Evans is in the Capitol!”
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