Washington, DC – The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on Thursday announced it had raised the award to $75,000 for information leading to whomever planted pipe bombs in the nation’s capital the day of the Capitol riot.
Pipe bombs were found outside both the Republican National Committee (RNC) and Democratic National Committee (DNC) headquarters buildings on Capitol Hill at 1 p.m. and 1:15 p.m., respectively, on Jan. 6, just as the chaos at the nearby U.S. Capitol was exploding, CBS News reported.
Those buildings are located only a few blocks apart, close to the U.S. Capitol complex.
Now-former U.S. Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund said afterwards that he thought the bombs were planted in locations where they would be discovered in order to draw police officials away from the Capitol building as violent protesters began to breach the doors.
Other law enforcement officials have agreed with that assessment.
Michael Sherwin, the acting U.S. Attorney for Washington, DC, said the pipe bombs were “real devices,” the Boston Globe reported.
Sherwin said the bombs had “explosive igniters. They had timers. We don’t know, obviously, why they did not go off. … That is all obviously being vetted and investigated. What was the purpose of those devices being planted? Was it a diversionary type of a tactic used by some of these rioters?”
He said there was a task force dedicated to tracking down the would-be bombers, the Boston Globe reported.
“And as mentioned, with this strike-force to focus strictly on sedition charges, we’re looking at, in creating this, just like a significant international counterterrorism or counterintelligence operation, we’re looking at everything,” Sherwin said. “Money, travel records. Looking at disposition, movement, communication records. So no resource related to the FBI or the US attorney’s office will be unchecked in terms of trying to determine exactly, if there was a command and control, how it operated and how they executed these activities.”
FBI officials initially announced a $50,000 reward for information leading up to the “location, arrest, and conviction of the suspect the day after the incident, CBS News reported.
The #FBI is seeking information about the person(s) responsible for the placement of suspected pipe bombs in D.C. Do you recognize this person? A $50,000 reward is available. Call 1-800-CALL-FBI with information or submit tips https://t.co/NNj84wkNJP. https://t.co/946jU0n3qJ pic.twitter.com/aiK7Z9MctA
— FBI Washington Field (@FBIWFO) January 19, 2021
They also announced that investigators had obtained video from surveillance cameras on nearby buildings that showed the suspect planting the bombs, CBS News reported.
The agency released pictures and video on social media and posted “wanted” posters on bus stops.
On Jan. 21, two weeks after the reward was first offered, the FBI announced it had been raised to $75,000.
ADDITIONAL REWARD: @ATFWashington & #FBIWFO are now offering a reward of up to $75K for info about the person(s) responsible for the placement of suspected pipe bombs in DC on January 6th. Call 1800CALLFBI with info or submit to https://t.co/NNj84wkNJP. pic.twitter.com/f77EHkVNND
— FBI Washington Field (@FBIWFO) January 21, 2021
As law enforcement worked to carefully disable the pipe bombs on Jan. 6, rioters were overtaking U.S. Capitol Police just a few blocks away, and running through the Capitol building.
In the midst of that nearby riot, police had to evacuate several residential blocks around the pipe bombs, forcing those residents – many of whom were children – out into the cold and chaos, the Hill Rag reported.
“They [the officers] were like, ‘you have to get out right now, and there’s no time to get anything’,” homeowner Brent Lightner, whose house shares an alley with the RNC, said.
His family took shelter at a friend’s house a few blocks away, outside of the blast zone established by police, and were stuck there for about four hours until the scene was cleared, the Hill Rag reported.
Lightner said they’ve had several bomb threats in the alley over the years but Jan. 6 was the first time the situation turned serious.
“Given everything that was going on that day, we took it a lot more seriously than we might have some other time,” he said. “When they started bringing the robots in, that’s how we knew this one was different, that they were taking it pretty seriously.”