Four months after the January 6 uprising at the U.S. Capitol, FBI agents maintain a steady pace of arresting people accused of participating as one of the largest criminal investigations in U.S. history continues to grow.
“We are not done collecting the worst of the worst,” said a law enforcement official. “We do not brake.”
More than 440 people have been accused of taking part in the Capitol siege, which comes from all but five states – Mississippi, North and South Dakota, Vermont and Wyoming. The largest numbers come from Texas, Pennsylvania and Florida in that order.
Men exceed women among those arrested by 7 to 1
More than 60 of those arrested so far face some of the most serious allegations of assault by officers of the U.S. Capitol Police and Washington’s Metropolitan Police Departments. Officials said 140 officers were injured during the uprising.
The arrests have been stable as the FBI sorts through hundreds of thousands of public tips. In nearly 90 percent of cases, charges have been at least in part based on a person’s own social media accounts.
A New York man, Robert Chapman, boasted with the dating app Bumble that he had been in the Capitol during the uprising. The person he was looking for to date replied, “We are not a fight,” and notified the FBI.
The FBI said Reed Christensen from Oregon, accused of attacking officers on the Capitol’s lower west terrace, was identified with the help of his son.
Investigators have also used face recognition software, comparing images from surveillance cameras and dumping social media and news agency videos against FBI photo databases and at least one other federal agency, customs and border protection, according to court documents.
They have also released records from companies providing cell phone service, allowing agents to tell if a particular person’s phone was inside the Capitol during the siege.
With at least 500 cases expected to be brought, all in a single federal court in Washington, prosecutors are likely to seek to reach a filing agreement in hopes of reducing the number of cases going to a full trial.
An Indiana man accused of being one of the founders of the far-right group, Oath Keepers, Jon Schaffer, pleaded guilty to entering the Capitol while wearing a tactical vest and armed with bear spray. He agreed to cooperate with the investigators.
Prosecutors said during court hearings this week that they will soon offer prosecution to four men accused of assaulting police officers. One of them, Patrick McCaughey, was accused of using a police riot shield to push against Capitol police officer Daniel Hodges and to squeeze him between the shield and a door at the building’s Lower West Terrace.
In a broad-based video, Hodges appears to be screaming in pain. But during this week’s court hearing in Washington, U.S. District Court Judge Trevor McFadden said prosecutors have not claimed Hodges was injured. The judge said defense attorneys cited an interview in which Hodges said he screamed to signal other officers that he was trapped.
“It appears that the defendant was trying to push his way through officers along with other rebels to enter the Capitol, rather than trying to injure or attack the officers,” the judge said.
In another hearing, government attorneys said they have begun inviting discussions with Kevin Seefried of Delaware, who was photographed inside the Capitol with a Confederate flag and his son, Hunter.
The FBI has released 353 photos on its website seeking public assistance in identifying people on the Capitol on Jan. 6 with a priority of finding those who attacked police officers.
Figure 123 shows a person suspected of trying to rip the face mask off Hodges. Pictures 106 and 134 involve attacks on two DC police officers who were pulled down the Capitol stairs. One of them was hit with a rod.
And Figure 300 shows a person who appeared to be throwing a two-four-piece piece of wood through a Capitol window.
FBI officials in Washington are still seeking public help to identify the person who planted two pipe bombs at the separate headquarters of the Republican and Democratic national parties. The units were located the night before the riots.
They did not explode, but investigators say they were fully capable of causing extensive damage.