The most ridiculous ways accused Capitol rioters got caught, from bad Bumble matches to an unbelievable Uber ride

The most ridiculous ways accused Capitol rioters got caught, from bad Bumble matches to an unbelievable Uber ride
capitol siege trump supporters
US Capitol siege in Washington DC on January 6, 2021.Samuel Corum/Getty Images
  • Hundreds of Jan. 6 rioters have been arrested and charged in the two years since a mob stormed the Capitol.

  • Many were easy to identify thanks to their brazen behavior inside and outside of the building that day.

  • Here are some of the least shocking ways Jan. 6 rioters got caught.

A mob of Trump supporters laid siege to the US Capitol almost exactly two years ago. In the months since the US government has arrested and charged nearly 1,000 people in connection with the attack and handed out hundreds of jail sentences and fines to those who pleaded and were found guilty.

The insurrection launched an unprecedented federal investigation that has seen prosecutors scour hotel and phone records, countless hours of surveillance footage, and scores of social media posts to track down the thousands of people inside and outside the Capitol that day.

In some respects, identifying the rioters, while a massive endeavor in scope, hasn't been a particularly difficult task: A majority of rioters seemingly had little to hide about their behavior on January 6, 2021. Several gave interviews to the media in the immediate aftermath, outwardly identifying themselves on camera; others were photographed in bizarre mid-riot activities — who could forget lectern guy or the man who posed with his feet atop Speaker Nancy Pelosi's desk? — that made them easily trackable targets.

But there are some accused rioters who were so brazen in their riot and post-riot conduct, that Insider believed they deserved their own special list.

Without further ado: The least surprising ways Capitol rioters got caught.

2 accused rioters made big Bumble blunders

These accused rioters' reach for romance landed them in trouble with the law.

In an apparent attempt to impress a Bumble match, Andrew Quentin Taake boasted about his apparent role in the siege, telling an anonymous woman on the dating app that he was among the insurrectionists from "the very beginning," prosecutors said.

After the pair's online conversation fizzled, the unnamed woman contacted the FBI on January 9, 2021, sharing screenshots of Taake's own admissions via messages between the two, according to a July 2021 criminal complaint. In one exchange, the Texas man told his potential paramour about being pepper-sprayed outside the Capitol: "I was the very first person to be sprayed that day, all while just standing there," he claimed.

But federal prosecutors ultimately accused him of doing much more than "just standing there," arresting him in July 2021 on several charges related to the attack, including assaulting, resisting, or impeding certain officers, and obstruction of law enforcement during civil disorder. Taake pleaded not guilty to all charges in late 2021 and is awaiting trial, according to court records. 

In a strikingly similar story, Robert Chapman, of New York, found himself charged with four counts related to the Capitol riot after a Bumble user tipped off the FBI, sharing a screenshot of an incriminating exchange between the two non-love-birds.

The anonymous woman contacted the FBI on January 13, 2021, with photos of her conversation with Chapman in which he blatantly admitted: "I did storm the Capitol" and "I made it all the way to Statuary Hall," referencing a room inside the Capitol. Chapman went on to tell his match that he had already spoken with reporters at both The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal.

"We are not a match," the woman responded.

"I suppose not," Chapman said.

A judge sentenced Chapman to three months of home detention earlier this year after he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor picketing charge.

robert chapman bumble
A composite image of Robert Chapman and messages he sent on Bumble. Both images are from a federal criminal complaint against Chapman.FBI

Familial fumings have led to weighty consequences  

Several accused rioters at the Capitol on January 6 were brought down by members of their own families.

There was Guy Reffitt, the notorious militia man who was sentenced to seven years in prison on five felony charges earlier this year after his teenage son turned him in to the FBI, in defiance of his dad's own direct threats to keep his mouth shut.

Or take the case of Zachary Alam, a Pennsylvania man who prosecutors say was filmed shattering a window in the Speaker's Lobby and subsequently arrested after an unnamed relative sent a tip to the FBI. Officials charged Alam with several counts last year and he pleaded guilty to all charges in December 2021, according to the Justice Department. 

But there is perhaps no case more baffling than that of Thomas Fee, a retired New York City firefighter who texted his girlfriend's brother — who also happened to be a federal agent with the US Diplomatic Security Service — a selfie showing him inside the Capitol rotunda during the riot.

According to charging documents, Fee also sent his girlfriend's brother a video of himself inside the building where other rioters could be heard screaming "Pelosi" and "tyranny." The unnamed special agent initially deleted the messages but was later able to retrieve them, after which he sent them to DSS. The agency then sent the evidence to the Joint Terrorism Task Force.

Fee turned himself in soon after and was sentenced to 24 months of probation earlier this year.

This rioter's ex-girlfriend got payback for his put-down

Richard Michetti learned the hard way the inevitable consequences of scorning an ex-lover.

A judge sentenced the Pennsylvania man to nine months in prison earlier this year after his ex-girlfriend turned him in to the FBI, according to court documents. The unnamed woman blew Michetti's cover after he called her a "moron" for not supporting former President Donald Trump, prosecutors said.

"If you can't see the election was stolen, you're a moron," Michetti texted his ex-girlfriend, according to the criminal complaint. "This is our country do you think we live like kings because no one sacrificed anything?"

After Michetti's insults, his ex-girlfriend provided the FBI with text messages and videos a day after the siege. She even identified him in other images that appeared to show him inside the building, prosecutors said.

capitol riot siege

This accused rioter faced religious repercussions thanks to a fellow worshipper

The FBI arrested Glenn Allen Brooks in August 2021 on two January 6-related charges after a member of his church prayer group turned him in, according to court documents. Prosecutors said Brooks "boasted of his active participation" in the attack and "sent photos of his attendance" to a text chat group full of other prayer group members.

Brooks sent the digital evidence to his fellow worshippers on the day of the riot, according to prosecutors, but the unnamed prayer group member who tipped off investigators did so weeks after the insurrection.

The California man pleaded not guilty to the charges against him in August 2021, according to court records.

An unbelievable Uber ride was this accused rioter's downfall

Alleged defendant Jerry Daniel Braun was turned in by his get-away car driver, according to court documents.

Authorities arrested the California man in April 2022 after the Uber driver who took Braun away from the January 6 attack tipped off the FBI, according to court documents.

Braun faces three charges related to his alleged role in the insurrection after a Washington, DC-area Uber driver contacted the FBI in January 2021 to share information about an apparent rioter. The driver told investigators that one of his passengers acknowledged tearing down a barricade at the US Capitol immediately following the siege. Braun has yet to enter a plea in the case, according to court records.

A portion of Braun's ride was captured on video by a dash cam in the Uber, according to court documents, during which the driver engaged Braun in conversation about the siege.

"So, has it been violent all day?" the driver asked, according to prosecutors.

"Well, it started around right when I got there," Braun responded, per prosecutors. "I tore down the barricades."

"You did?" the driver asked. "Why?"

"Well, because, so we could get to the Capitol," Braun replied.

"Well, how'd that work out for ya?" the driver responded.

"Well, it looks like, uh, Biden's gonna be our president," Braun said.

Jerry Daniel Braun holds his head in the back of an Uber.
An Uber dash cam video captured Jerry Daniel Braun immediately after the Capitol riot on January 6, 2021.The Department of Justice.

Self-promoters helped investigators by identifying themselves

Some industrious rioters couldn't help but use an unprecedented American insurrection as an opportunity to drum up business.

Texas real estate agent Jenna Ryan, who has continually made headlines for her post-riot behavior and commentary, seemed to be in hustle mode on January 6, posting a since-deleted video from the Capitol in which she promoted herself.

"We're gonna…go in there, life of death! It doesn't matter!" she said in the video, according to The Washington Post. "Y'all know who to hire for your realtor: Jenna Ryan."

In another video from inside the building, Ryan continued to sell herself: "You guys, can you believe this? I'm not messing around. When I come to sell your house, this is what I'll do."

Ryan completed a 60-day prison sentence earlier this year after pleading guilty to a single federal misdemeanor charge of parading.

Among the entrepreneurial insurrectionists that day was also Troy Faulkner, who was sentenced to five months in prison earlier this year after pleading guilty. According to an FBI affidavit, Faulkner stormed the Capitol on January 6, 2021, while wearing a jacket advertising his Ohio painting company.

The promotional outerwear helped FBI agents identify him, according to investigators. On the back of his jacket, Faulkner advertised his namesake painting business and the telephone number for the company.

Memorable fashion choices made some rioters instantly recognizable

Adorned with a headdress, horns, and red, white, and blue face paint, Jacob Chansley — alternatively known as the QAnon Shaman — dressed his way into becoming the unofficial mascot for the January 6 insurrection.

Chansley is undoubtedly one of the most recognizable faces of the Capitol riot. Thanks to his larger-than-life get-up, he was photographed several times throughout the day walking with his bullhorn and flagpole. Authorities arrested him just three days later in his hometown of Phoenix, Arizona, where he was charged with two felonies and four misdemeanors.

"He made himself the image of the riot, didn't he?" Judge Royce Lamberth said in November 2021 before sentencing Chansley to 41 months in prison following his guilty plea to obstruction.

qanon shaman jacob chansley jake angeli capitol riot
A protester screams "Freedom" inside the Senate chamber after the U.S. Capitol was breached by a mob during a joint session of Congress on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC.Win McNamee/Getty Images

Several other bizarrely-dressed rioters have since been arrested and sentenced, including Aaron Mostofsky, who donned fur pelts while inside the Capitol; Kevin Seefried, who carried a giant Confederate Flag throughout the Capitol's hall; and Robert Keith Packer, who was photographed wearing a "Camp Auschwitz" sweatshirt.

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