In the wake of last week’s riot at the Capitol building, the feds are presumably working day and night to track down everyone involved. For many of the rioters, this has apparently not been challenging. Some of the more prominent characters, like Jake Angeli, the “QAnon Shaman” who is currently receiving organic food for his “strict shamanic diet” while in federal custody, were just so insanely dressed that they weren’t hard to pin down. Others cropped up in such surreal and widely circulated photos that acquaintances were able to spot them and tip off the FBI—such is the case for the Florida man who appears in photos waving like an overeager tourist with an unwieldy lectern in tow.
Many of the rest showed up elsewhere: on live TV, in press photos, in their own livestreams and selfies. (Many also apparently thought federal law enforcement would not have access to deleted Facebook posts.) They left behind extensive phone and text records, message board posts, and social media activity, where many of these people used their real names to plan how the day would go down. Perhaps most ironic of all is fact that very few of the invaders were wearing face masks—which would have been a good idea, given the pandemic—making them all the more easy to identify.
This is all honestly pretty dark—these guys crossed the line that day, but it seems clear that far-right conspiracy theorists and white supremacists have gotten used to operating in the open. All of the idiocy is undergirded by a sense of entitlement that’s pretty logical, historically speaking. And if this bunch can get as close as they did to gunning down U.S. Senators on live TV—as it seems may have been the plan for at least some—it’s chilling to imagine what someone with actual smarts could do.
But as deeply terrifying as the events at the Capitol were—and continue to be, as we find out more—we can’t help but find a little comic relief in just how absurdly some of these guys got themselves caught. We’ve tracked down a few highlights.
The Shameless Plug
One man couldn’t resist the opportunity for some prime merch placement on national TV. Doug Jensen, who turned himself in to the Des Moines Police Department and subsequently admitted he was in the group that chased a Capitol Police officer up the stairs, told police in the same recorded interview that he wanted to be one of the first people inside the building so his “Q” t-shirt could be seen on video. Why? So QAnon would “get the credit.”
The Worst Imaginable Deskmate
Two of the arrests, of the father-son duo of Kevin and Hunter Seefried, were made based on a tip from one of Hunter’s coworkers, who reported he had been bragging around the water cooler about being in the Capitol on January 6th with his father. (The elder Seefried was pictured carrying an enormous Confederate flag.) We’re going to guess he wasn’t wearing a mask in the office either.
The Outfit Repeater
This one’s grim: A well-circulated photograph shows a man in the mob wearing a “Camp Auschwitz” sweatshirt, whose name turns out to be Robert Packer. One of the confirming witnesses recognized him as a frequent customer at a store in Virginia and knew him not by name but by sweatshirt. The witness even produced a photo from late last year of Packer in the store wearing—you guessed it—the same hoodie.
The Polite E-mailer
During a convoluted FBI interview involving a “dream” he had about a mob and shock that agents had found a photo he deleted from Instagram after “only an hour,” Kevin Lyons showed the FBI a video on his own phone, taken inside the building. He offered to upload the video to YouTube and send the bureau a link—it was apparently too large a file to e-mail—and wrote a polite note to accompany it: “Hello Nice FBI Lady, Here are the links to the videos,” signed with his full name. In one link, Lyons’ voice can be heard throughout.
Derrick Evans, a state lawmaker in West Virginia who has since stepped down, recorded his own entry to the Capitol on Facebook Livestream. In case it wasn’t clear from his profile who posted them, one video included a few seconds of him shouting, “We’re in! Derrick Evans is in the Capitol!”