FBI still after ‘worst of the worst’ in Capitol riot as new arrests come at steady pace

Four months after the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, FBI agents maintain a steady pace of arresting people accused of taking part, as one of the largest criminal investigations in American history keeps growing.

“We’re not done rounding up the worst of the worst,” said one law enforcement official. “We’re not slowing down.”

More than 440 people have been charged with taking part in the Capitol siege, coming from all but five states — Mississippi, North and South Dakota, Vermont and Wyoming. The largest number come from Texas, Pennsylvania, and Florida, in that order.

Men outnumber women among those arrested by 7 to 1, with an average age of 39, according to figures compiled by the Program on Extremism at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. A total of 44 are military veterans.

More than 60 of those arrested so far face some of the most serious charges, of assaulting officers with the U.S. Capitol Police and Washington’s Metropolitan Police departments. Officials said 140 officers were injured during the riot.

The pace of arrests has remain steady, as the FBI sorts through hundreds of thousands of public tips. In nearly 90 percent of the cases, charges have been based at least in part on a person’s own social media accounts.

A New York man, Robert Chapman, bragged on the dating app Bumble that he’d been in the Capitol during the riot. The person he was seeking to date responded, “We are not a match,” and notified the FBI.

The FBI said Reed Christensen of Oregon, accused of assaulting officers on the Capitol’s lower west terrace, was identified with the help of his son.

Investigators have also used facial recognition software, comparing images from surveillance cameras and an outpouring of social media and news agency videos against photo databases of the FBI and at least one other federal agency, Customs and Border Protection, according to court documents.

They have also subpoenaed records from companies providing cellphone service, allowing agents to tell whether a specific person’s phone was inside the Capitol during the siege.

With at least 500 cases expected to be filed, all in a single federal court in Washington, prosecutors will likely be seeking to reach plea agreements, in hopes of reducing the number of cases going to a full trial.

An Indiana man accused of being a founding member of the far-right group the 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 investigators.

Prosecutors said during court hearings this week that they will soon offer plea deals 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 pin him between the shield and a door at the building’s Lower West Terrace.

In a widely seen video, Hodges appears to cry out in pain. But during this week’s court hearing in Washington, U.S. District Court Judge Trevor McFadden said prosecutors have not alleged that Hodges was injured. The judge said defense lawyers cited an interview in which Hodges said he was screaming to signal other officers that he was trapped.

“It looks to me like the defendant was trying to push his way through the officers with other rioters to enter the Capitol, rather than that he was trying to hurt or attack the officers,” the judge said.

In another hearing, government lawyers said they have started plea discussions with Kevin Seefried of Delaware, who was photographed inside the Capitol holding a Confederate flag, and his son, Hunter.

The FBI has posted 353 images on its website, seeking public help in identifying people at the Capitol on Jan. 6, with a priority of finding those who attacked police officers.

Individuals, clockwise from upper left, #123, #134, #300A, and #106 the FBI is seeking in relation to the riots at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.FBI

Image 123 shows a person suspected of trying to rip the face mask from Hodges. Images 106 and 134 involve attacks on two D.C. police officers who were dragged down Capitol steps. One of them was struck with a pole.

And image 300 shows a person who appeared to throw a two-by-four piece of wood through a Capitol window.

FBI officials in Washington are still seeking public help in identifying the person who planted two pipe bombs at the separate headquarters of the Republican and Democrat national parties. The devices were placed the night before the riot.

They did not explode, but investigators say they were fully capable of causing extensive damage.

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