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A soldier accused of spraying chemical agents at police during the Capitol riot enlisted in the army in May, months after the FBI began investigating him

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Capitol riot
Trump supporters clash with police and security forces as they push barricades to storm the US Capitol in Washington D.C on January 6, 2021. Roberto Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images
  • A soldier was arrested last week and charged in connection to the Capitol riot.

  • James Mault enlisted in May, months after the FBI began investigating his involvement in the riot.

  • Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced plans in April to address extremism in the military.

A man who was arrested last week in connection to the Capitol riot enlisted in the military in May, months after the FBI began investigating photos and videos that the agency says show him assaulting police officers.

James Mault of Brockport, New York, has been charged on multiple counts, including assaulting, resisting, or impeding certain officers using a dangerous weapon or inflicting bodily injury.

According to a criminal complaint filed by the FBI, Mault sprayed chemical agents at police officers while they tried to keep the pro-Trump mob from overtaking the Capitol on Jan. 6. About a week after the riot, agents began investigating Mault after receiving several tips.

Mault, 29, was able to enlist in the military in May, while the investigation was ongoing, Fort Bragg spokesman Joe Buccino told The Washington Post.

Capitol rioters spraying chemical agent at law enforcement
Photo from a criminal complaint that the FBI says shows soldier James Mault spraying a chemical agent at law enforcement during the Capitol riot. Department of Justice

Rooting out extremism from the military is a stated goal of Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who in April announced plans to establish a countering extremism working group after some veterans participated in the Jan. 6 attack. The group will assess the scope of the issue and combat extremist ideologies in the military and among veterans.

Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said at the time that the "vast majority" of servicemen and women were not extremists, but that the small group who are has a "corrosive effect."

In a briefing last week, defense officials also said they had taken steps to continuously vet all service members for security concerns, replacing a more periodic and selective vetting process.

Mault had also served in the active-duty army prior to his May enlistment, The Post reported, from 2012 to 2016, in a stint that included a deployment to Kuwait.

According to the criminal complaint, when first interviewed by the FBI in January, Mault told agents he was at the Capitol on Jan. 6 but that he was pushed forward by the crowd and had no choice but to approach the building. He denied entering the building or assaulting anyone.

Capitol rioters spraying chemical agent at law enforcement
Photo from a criminal complaint that the FBI says shows soldier James Mault spraying a chemical agent at law enforcement during the Capitol riot. Department of Justice

But the FBI says the photos and video stills included in the complaint show Mault spraying a chemical agent directly at a group of law enforcement officers who attempted to block the mob from breaching the Capitol.

Mault, who is pictured at the Capitol wearing a hard hat, told the agents he wore his hard hat from work as protection against members of antifa, who he had heard were attacking Trump supporters after rallies.

At least six people have been arrested in connection to the riot while actively serving in the military, according to The Post.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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