Whether intentional or not, a handful of people who participated in the failed insurrection at the U.S. Capitol gained a specific kind of internet fame — a type of attention that, in part, was fueled by individuals hoping to hold those people accountable for the deadly attack.
Even before law enforcement had secured the federal building on Jan. 6, 2021, images of then-President Donald Trump's loyalists breaking the law inside it trickled out online and spread widely across social media.
That was because photojournalists were mixed in the crowd, documenting the violence in real time and then immediately sending those images to editors off site for widespread distribution. And some rioters themselves recorded live streams of what they saw, or selfie-style narration videos.
Then, in the days and weeks after that, the FBI circulated advisories based on those videos and photographs, as well as Capitol surveillance footage and other evidence, and asked for the public's help in identifying the people depicted in the visual evidence.
That's when terms such as "Zip-Tie Guy" or "Podium Guy" became part of Twitter's lexicon. Without knowing the rioters' actual names, internet sleuths created nicknames to keep track of who was who — or who was pictured doing what inside the Capitol — as well as whether they eventually faced legal consequences.
Below is a summary of prosecutions against a handful of rioters who attracted heavy online attention, partly because of their appearance or photographed actions during the siege. Most of these people were the subjects of viral rumors and, therefore, Snopes fact checks.
All but one of them are waiting for sentencing hearings or trials to begin in spring 2022, and, aside from news stories documenting those court proceedings, little evidence exists to show how they've lived since gaining viral fame. In the attempted takeover's aftermath, they've seemingly stopped using social media under their actual names to share life updates, much less their political ideologies, and they've done only a handful of media interviews.
This breakdown comes one year after the historic riot, as the House committee investigating the circumstances that led to the violence prepared to release findings, and numerous criminal cases against rioters moved through the federal justice system.
As of this writing, federal prosecutors had arrested more than 725 rioters for crimes ranging in severity from breaking into a restricted federal building to more serious charges of assaulting law enforcement officers, according to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). About 165 of those arrested had pleaded guilty, and the FBI was still looking for hundreds of additional suspects who attacked police officers or were violent in other ways.
The Horned, Shirtless 'QAnon Shaman': Jacob Chansley (a.k.a. Jacob Angeli)
What's he doing one year later? Jacob Chansley — otherwise known as Jake Angeli or the "QAnon Shaman" — is in prison. And he's done multiple media interviews from there.
Chansley, of Phoenix, Arizona, emerged as one of the most notable characters from the Jan. 6 Capitol attack. That was, in part, because of his appearance (shirtless, painted face, fur-covered hat with horns, spear adorned with the American flag, etc.) and otherwise because of his extreme dedication to cult-like conspiracy theories with Trump at the center.
According to the DOJ, Chansley was among the first 30 rioters who breached the federal building. At one point, he scaled the Senate dais and sat in the seat designated for the chamber's presiding officer, then-Vice President Mike Pence. Prosecutors wrote in a summary of his alleged offenses:
The defendant proceeded to take pictures of himself on the dais and refused to vacate the seat when ... the lone law enforcement officer in the Chamber at the time, tased him to do so. Instead, the defendant stated that "Mike Pence is a fucking traitor" and wrote a note on available paper on the dais, stating "It's Only A Matter Time. Justice Is Coming!"
Law enforcement officers arrested him just three days later, court records showed. Detention authorities later diagnosed him with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, and anxiety, Reuters reported.
In February, less than a month after his arrest, his lawyer persuaded a federal judge to order the D.C. correctional facility to provide Chansley with a strict diet of organic meals, news outlets such as Politico and The Associated Press reported. Then, in early March, Chansley gave his first media interview from jail: a conversation with “60 Minutes" in which he said his actions on Jan. 6 were not an attack on the nation, but instead a way to “bring God back into the Senate.”
Facing six criminal charges, eventually Chansley made a deal with prosecutors and pleaded guilty to a single felony count of obstruction of an official proceeding. In mid-November, he appeared in court for his sentencing wearing a dark green prison jumpsuit, with a beard and shaved head, according to Reuters, and told the judge: "The hardest part of this is that I know I am to blame," Chansley said, describing a difficult childhood and saying he had taken responsibility for his behavior.
The federal judge sentenced him to nearly three and a half years in prison and another three years of probation.
After the sentencing, his lawyer, Albert Watkins, said in a statement to journalists: “The path charted by Mr. Chansley since Jan. 6 has been a process, one which has involved pain, depression, solitary confinement, introspection, recognition of mental health vulnerabilities and a coming to grips with the need for more self-work."
Then, in November, CNBC reported that Chansley filed an appeal seeking to void his guilty plea and prison sentence, and that he fired Watkins in favor of attorney John Pierce (a lawyer who at one point had represented Kyle Rittenhouse and said in a tweet that Rittenhouse would "go down in history" for starting a second American Revolutionary War). Other reputable news outlets substantiated the latter claim; however, the outcome of the appeal was undetermined, as of this publication.
Weeks later, Chansley joined a Colorado conservative activist's podcast remotely from his corrections facility, where he said, according to Colorado Newsline:
“This is what every single great leader, what every pioneer of sorts, has had to go through,” Angeli said. “When you challenge a system that is so heavily corrupt, when you speak truth to power, what it does is it sends ripples throughout the world. This is part of the reason why, while I’m upset about what happened to me … at the same time, I’m doing all I can to be strong and courageous and wear the full armor of God.”
On Jan. 5, 2022, Inside Edition published another interview it supposedly conducted via phone with Chansley. He apparently answered questions about the failed insurrection while on speakerphone with his mother, who at one point told the media outlet: “I feel really passionate about how wrong I think it is that he is even doing any time at all."
Here are viral rumors involving Chansley that Snopes has addressed since the Capitol siege.
- Was Capitol Rioter in Horns and Furs an Antifa Instigator Who Took Part in BLM Protests?
- Did 'The Simpsons' Predict Pro-Trump Horned Rioter Jake Angeli?
- Was Guiliani Photographed with Capitol Rioter Jake Angeli?
- Did 'Antifa' Jake Angeli Collude With Nancy Pelosi's Son-in-Law?
- Is 'QAnon Shaman' Jake Angeli Turning His Back on Trump?
Man Photographed with Foot on Pelosi's Desk: Richard Barnett
One year later, the man who gained publicity for putting his foot on a desk in the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — Richard "Bigo" Barnett — was released from jail on specific terms and waiting for a court hearing in February 2022, according to court records and Arkansas' KNWA-TV.
With a stun gun attached to his waist, Barnett, of Bentonville, Arkansas, hung out in the office for about six minutes after someone else had pushed in a door securing it, according to prosecutors' case against him.
While standing in a crowd outside of the Capitol shortly afterwards, he told a New York Times reporter that he took an envelope from Pelosi's desk and left her a note that said, “Nancy, Bigo was here, you bitch.”
By the next day, journalists found Facebook posts authored by him, including one in which he identified as a white nationalist.
Barnett turned himself in on Jan. 8 and spent months in jail, according to news reports and court records.Facing multiple charges, including entering and remaining in a restricted building with a dangerous weapon, he pleaded not guilty.
Under the conditions of his release, Joseph McBride, a lawyer representing Barnett, told Arkansas' KFSM-TV that Barnett must wear a location-monitoring device and cannot possess firearms or other weapons, travel outside a 50-mile radius of his home, or associate with anyone who participated in the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.
Months later, The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette uncovered a website where Barnett was supposedly selling signed photographs of him sitting at Pelosi's desk, or copies of court filings related to his case, in exchange for monetary donations to help him pay legal fees.
Then, at a pretrial hearing in November, the prosecution said it needed more time to obtain and analyze additional evidence, including television and body camera footage, and bolster its case against Barnett, KNWA-TV reported.
In response, Barnett's attorney, McBride, told the judge "we need to get our eyes" on all forthcoming evidence before deciding next moves, according to The Gazette. "Right now, the case is on track for trial, but that is subject to developments, positively or negatively," McBride said.
Barnett's next hearing, which will take place virtually, is set for Feb. 1, 2022, KNWA-TV reported.
'Podium Guy': Adam Johnson
Where is the below-pictured man as of January 2022? Adam Johnson, of Parrish, Florida, was also released from custody on "personal recognizance" (that's a release without the requirement of posting bail) and waiting for a sentencing hearing the following month, according to court records and Florida's WTSP.
According to the DOJ, Johnson broke into the Capitol, removed the lectern from its home in the House, and took it to the building's rotunda.
It's unclear how, or by what route, Johnson carried the item between those locations, and no evidence indicates that he took it anywhere else. Prosecutors said the lectern (with an estimated value of $1,000) usually sits under a staircase on the House side of the Capitol and that, on Jan. 7, Senate staff found it in the Senate wing, near the rotunda.
During the siege, Johnson also supposedly posted a Facebook photo of himself inside the building.
As the above-displayed photo by a Getty Images photographer spread like wildfire online, a friend-of-a-friend called the FBI to turn Johnson in, federal court records said.
Law enforcement officers arrested him on Jan. 8. Days later, Johnson was released from custody on conditions that his wife co-sign his $25,000 bond and that he follow a curfew with GPS monitoring, surrender all firearms and dangerous weapons, restrict his traveling to Florida and Washington, D.C., for court hearings, and submit to court evaluations such as substance-abuse testing, The Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported.
In November, court records showed that Johnson entered a plea agreement with prosecutors, concurring that he was guilty of entering or remaining in a restricted facility — a crime punishable by up to six months in prison.
As part of that agreement, the DOJ dropped two other charges against him, the Tribune reported. Johnson told the court at that time he accepted responsibility for his actions inside the Capitol, and that he had gotten "caught up in the moment."
His sentencing hearing was scheduled for Feb. 25, 2022, WTSP reported.
Here are Snopes fact checks related to Johnson's viral photo:
- Does a Photo Show Rioter Snatching a 'Podium' in the U.S. Capitol?
- Was U.S. House Speaker's 'Podium' Listed on eBay?
'Zip-Tie Guy': Eric Munchel
In the year after he was photographed holding plastic flex cuffs inside the Senate chamber, Tennessee's Eric Munchel was released from jail on certain conditions established by the court and awaiting trial in March 2022, according to court records and the Nashville Tennessean.
According to the DOJ, Munchel and his mother, Lisa Eisenhart, canvassed the Capitol on Jan. 6 wearing tactical gear and what law enforcement officers sometimes use as an alternative for metal handcuffs: plastic flex cuffs. (An attorney representing Munchel later told a judge that Munchel picked up the plastic zip ties from inside the Capitol to keep them from being unused, The Washington Post reported. That argument aside, no evidence definitively explains why, or under what motivation, he was carrying them.)
During the break-in, the son had a cellphone attached to his chest to record their actions, and a Taser on his hip, according to the DOJ. "Probably the last time I'll be able to enter the building with armor and f***ing weapons," he says in the cell footage, according to Nashville's WTVF.
At one point, video footage showed Munchel and his mother near a mob attacking two Capitol police officers guarding the Senate chambers' entrance and then entering that area after the assault, according to prosecutors.
In the following days, various social media users identified Munchel as the "Zip Tie Guy," in part, according to prosecutors, by looking at his since-deleted Facebook profile. During that grassroots search, Munchel spoke to a journalist with The Sunday Times, a British newspaper, saying of the attack: "We wanted to show that we’re willing to rise up, band together and fight if necessary. Same as our forefathers, who established this country in 1776."
On the same day that that interview published, the FBI arrested Munchel. Officers detained Eisenhart about a week later, on Jan. 16, court records showed.
In the end, prosecutors accused the mother-son duo of numerous crimes, including trespassing, disorderly conduct, and obstructing an official congressional proceeding. They spent some time in jail — until March 2021, when a federal appeals court said they could be released to home confinement before their trial, The Washington Post reported.
Under conditions of that release, Munchel had to live with GPS monitoring under house arrest "in the custody of a third-party custodian" and also was prohibited from drinking alcohol "excessively," reported Atlanta's NBC-affiliated news station, citing prosecutors. But according to September court filings, Munchel violated those conditions — he was supposedly evicted by the person who was supposed to be supervising him — so the court requested that his brother take over custodianship and that he stay completely away from alcohol.
As of this writing, Munchel and Eisenhart were awaiting trial on March 29, 2022, according to The Nashville Tennessean.
Here's more visual evidence of the scene inside the Senate chambers that shook the internet:
Confederate Flag Carrier: Kevin Seefried
On the one-year anniversary of the attack, what's happening with the man who was pictured carrying a Confederate flag through the Capitol? Kevin Seefried, of Wilmington, Delaware, was also released from jail without posting bail (so long as he follows certain guidelines) and awaiting trial in May 2022, according to court documents and CBS News Congressional Correspondent Scott MacFarlane.
Investigators said video footage showed Seefried and his son, Hunter Seefried, entering the Senate building through a broken window and later joining a group that was "verbally confronting" several U.S. Capitol police officers. Federal court documents that outline prosecutors' case against the father include a photograph like the one displayed above, allegedly showing him holding the Confederate flag.
Shortly afterwards, a coworker of Hunter Seefried contacted the FBI after he had supposedly "bragged out being in the Capitol with his father" on Jan. 6, prosecutors wrote. Around that time, FBI agents interviewed the pair separately, and the elder Seefried supposedly told them that he brought the flag to Washington, D.C., from his home in Delaware where he displays it outside.
Following their arrest in mid-January, a judge allowed them to be released from jail on certain conditions, reported the Delaware News Journal. In April, a grand jury indicted both of them for numerous crimes, including disorderly conduct and picketing or parading in the U.S. Capitol, court records showed.
On Jan. 3, 2022, MacFarlane, the CBS reporter, tweeted that Kevin Seefried's trial date was set for May 2022.
Here are previous Snopes fact checks involving Kevin Seefried:
- Was the Confederate Flag Raised at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.?
- Is Alleged Capitol Rioter Kevin Seefried a ‘Registered Democrat and Biden Supporter’?
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