‘Chaos agent’ Jan 6 rioter who captured Babbitt shooting sentenced to six years

Federal prosecutors say Utah man encouraged supporters of former president to storm the Capitol and use violence

Ariana Baio
Saturday 27 April 2024 16:37 BST
Trump calls January 6 defendants ‘hostages’

A January 6 rioter who filmed himself storming the Capitol saying, “Let’s burn this s*** down” and captured the fatal shooting of Ashli Babbitt was sentenced to six years in prison on Friday.

John Earle Sullivan, 29, of Salt Lake City, Utah was convicted of five felonies and two misdemeanours in November for his actions at the Capitol. Federal prosecutors argued he intended to “incite violence” that day and used footage Sullivan took to support their case.

The videos showed Sullivan and other rioters storming the Capitol building, breaking windows and unlawfully entering it. Throughout the footage, Sullivan can be heard encouraging other rioters to enter the building unlawfully and ignore calls for peaceful protests.

“We’re taking this s*** to the ground,” Sullivan said in a video. “Let’s f*** this s*** up.”

While inside the Capitol, Sullivan told other individuals, “We gotta get this s*** burned”, “It’s our house mother f*****”, and “We are getting this s***” among other things.

Eventually, he made his way to the front of the Speaker’s Lobby and encouraged the crowd to break the windows. It was there that Babbitt tried to climb through the window and was fatally shot by a Capitol police officer. Sullivan captured some of the more well-known footage of the incident.

A self-purported “journalist”, Sullivan sold some of the footage he took on January 6 to news outlets for more than $90,000.

Just one week after the January 6 riot, Sullivan was arrested by Federal Bureau of Investigation agents in Salt Lake City.

This past fall he was found guilty of obstructing an official proceeding, obstructing officers during a civil disorder, entering or remaining in a restricted building or grounds with a dangerous weapon, disorderly or disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds with a dangerous weapon and unlawful possession of a dangerous weapon on Capitol grounds or buildings.

He was also found guilty of misdemeanour offences of disorderly conduct in a Capitol building and parading, demonstrating, or picketing in a Capitol building.

John Earle Sullivan , a January 6 rioter who was sentenced to six years in prison
John Earle Sullivan , a January 6 rioter who was sentenced to six years in prison (Fox 13 News Utah )

Prosecutors described Sullivan as uniquely “antiestablishment” with anarchist views. They said he showed up to the Capitol wearing a ballistic vest and gas mask and carrying a knife, intending to cause “pure chaos”.

Sullivan was previously involved with some Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests and used pro-protest content to build a social media following. He used the persona “JaydenX” and founded Insurgence USA, a group that participates in protests to fight police brutality.

In July 2020, he organised a protest in Provo, Utah where a motorist was shot. However, BLM activists in Utah distanced themselves from Sullivan, claiming he was not part of their group and cautioned protests to avoid him.

District Court Judge Royce Lamberth sentenced Sullivan to 72 months in prison, 36 months of supervised release and ordered him to pay $2,000 in restitution.

Sullivan is part of the more than 1,300 individuals who have been charged with crimes related to their actions on January 6.

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