Federal law enforcement officials have arrested two members of the Proud Boys, a rightwing nationalist extremist group, for their role in the attack on the US Capitol on 6 January.
The riot is now the subject of a second impeachment trial of Donald Trump, who is accused of inciting the rightwing mob at a rally that immediately preceded the assault. Federal authorities have charged more than 150 people in the onslaught.
Federal prosecutors indicted Dominic Pezzola, 43, of Rochester, New York, and William Pepe, 31, of Beacon, New York on charges of conspiracy, civil disorder, unlawfully entering restricted buildings, and disorderly conduct in restricted buildings.
Both men were identified as members of the Proud Boys, who, federal charging documents note, describe themselves as a “pro-Western fraternal organization for men who refuse to apologize for creating the modern world; aka Western Chauvinists”. The far-right group is known for using violent tactics against its opponents.
Pezzola was the subject of one of the most widely distributed videos of the Capitol riots, in which he used a protective shield ripped away from a Capitol police officer to smash a window leading into the Capitol.
Michael Sherwin, the acting US attorney for Washington, said in a court filing that Pezzola had “showed perseverance, determination, and coordination in being at the front lines every step along the way before breaking into the Capitol”, and that his actions in shattering the window and allowing an initial group of rioters to stream through “cannot be overstated”.
Pezzola was later seen inside the Capitol building with a cigar, having what he described as a “victory smoke” and boasting that he “knew we could take this”. Pezzola’s lawyer described his client as a self-employed family man.
In a search of Pezzola’s home in Rochester, New York, FBI agents found a computer thumb drive with hundreds of files detailing how to make firearms, poisons or explosives, Sherwin wrote in arguing that Pezzola should continue to be held without bail.
Pepe was also photographed inside the Capitol. Federal authorities later identified him as a Metro-North Railroad train yard laborer who called in sick to attend the Trump rally that preceded the riot. Metro-North suspended Pepe without pay. He was also forced to surrender a shotgun and a hunting rifle, according to the Associated Press.
In yet another arrest, federal authorities have charged Dawn Bancroft, a woman who entered the Capitol building and took a video of herself inside, with unlawful entry into a restricted building, disorderly conduct inside a restricted building, and violent entry into a restricted building.
An affidavit from the FBI said Bancroft at first denied entering the building. When she was shown her own video of the event, the affidavit said she “stated that she lied”. Bancroft’s video showed her inside the Capitol with a friend and said she was searching for “Nancy”, believed to be Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker, so they could shoot her “in the friggin’ brain”.
Police are still searching for a suspect in the placement of pipe bombs in front of the Republican and Democratic party headquarters on 5 January.
The FBI said it believed the suspect had placed the bombs in Washington DC between 7.30 and 8.30pm, and that the suspect was wearing Nike Air Max Turf shoes in yellow, black and gray. Authorities have increased the reward for information leading to the suspect’s arrest from $75,000 to $100,000.