Two alleged Capitol rioters arrested based on Google searches afterward: ‘Is it illegal to go into Capitol’

Investigators could identify both men in Capitol’s surveillance footage

Vishwam Sankaran
Thursday 31 March 2022 15:42 BST

Related: Bill Barr says Donald Trump responsible for 6 January Capitol riot

Two men accused of storming the US Capitol on 6 January 2021 were arrested last week after their Google searches and the information they shared on Facebook allegedly incriminated them.

Bryan Raymond Jones and Patrick John King of Washington face four charges. These include entering and remaining in a restricted building, disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building, and parading, demonstrating, or picketing in Capitol building, according to the complaint lodged in the US district court in Columbia.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) arrested Mr Jones and Mr King after an anonymous tipster, who went to the same middle school as the men, indicated they had seen a photograph on Facebook of the two “smoking marijuana inside the US Capitol”.

Following the tip, investigators identified both men in surveillance footage as well as open-source photographs, which captured Mr Jones and Mr King entering the Capitol amid a crowd of other rioters.

“Records provided by Verizon Wireless through legal process identified cell phone numbers registered to King and Jones. The records also indicated that King and Jones both used their phones while in Washington, DC on January 6, 2021,” the charging documents noted.

The duo also conducted multiple searches on Google since the evening of 6 January 2021 related to the criminality of entering the US Capitol.

“Examples of searched phrases included: ‘Is it illegal to go into the Capitol’, ‘US Capitol facial recognition’, ‘Unlawful entry charge’, ‘Law definition of ‘breach’’, ‘DC police release photos of people who broke into Capitol’, and several others,” authorities said.

Another anonymous tipster, who owns a business near where the men live, told investigators that a customer pointed to a news coverage of the attack on television that week and said one of their family members was “involved in that” and “went inside” the Capitol.

Travel records provided by Delta and United airlines also confirmed that the two men traveled from Seattle in Washington State to Baltimore in Maryland on 5 January 2021, and returned on 7 January.

Mr King had also sent multiple messages on Facebook saying he and Jones went into the Capitol and “smoked weed n shit” and “was part of rushing the riot police”. He had also expressed concerns about being arrested for his participation.

In two videos in Mr King’s Facebook records, investigators found him emerging from inside the Capitol during the siege and in another, he appeared to be smoking cannabis inside the crowded halls of the building.

So far, authorities have arrested more than 800 people in connection to the US Capitol riots, and over 200 have pleaded guilty.

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