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Retired Air Force Lt. Col., Olympic Gold Medalist, Black Lives Activist Among Capitol Riot Arrests

Washington, DC – A retired Pennsylvania firefighter, an Olympic gold medalist, a former U.S. marine, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel, and a man claiming to be a Black Lives Matter activist were among notable arrests made in connection with the Capitol riot.

John Earle Sullivan, 25, gave interviews to news media after the riots on Jan. 6 and bragged that he was a Black Lives Matter activist who had only gone into the Capitol building to document what was happening, the Deseret News reported.

Charging documents showed that when Sullivan, who is from Utah, was detained by police on Jan. 7, he “claimed to be an activist and journalist that filmed protests and riots” but admitted he had no press credentials.

But videos of the Capitol riot showed that Sullivan was a very active participant in the breach of the building and that he actually encouraged other rioters to break in and burn it all down, the Deseret News reported.

“There are so many people,” he yelled over a microphone in one video. “Let’s go. This [expletive] is ours! [Expletive] yeah. We accomplished this [expletive]. We did this together. [Expletive] yeah! We are all a part of this history. Let’s burn this [expletive] down.”

Sullivan wore a ballistic vest and gas mask as he entered the U.S. Capitol through a broken window and pushed past police, according to a press release from the U.S. Department of Justice.

A YouTube video showed Sullivan “telling a crowd, over a microphone, ‘We about to burn this [expletive] down,’ and ‘We ain’t waiting until the next election… we about to go get that [expletive].’ Sullivan then can be seen leading the crowd in a chant of, ‘It’s time for a revolution,’” the Deseret News reported.

He also encouraged protesters to climb a wall to get to an entrance and offered a knife to a group of rioters who were trying to pry doors open, according to charging documents.

Charging documents said that “In at least two encounters, Sullivan can be heard on the video arguing with the officers, telling them to stand down so that they do not get hurt. Among other things, Sullivan can be heard telling officers, ‘You are putting yourself in harm’s way,’ ‘The people have spoken,’ and ‘There are too many people, you gotta stand down, the people out there that tried to do that (expletive), they got hurt, I saw it, I’m caring about you,’” the Deseret News reported.

Sullivan was arrested on Wednesday and charged federally with being on restricted property, civil disorder, and “violent entry or disorderly conduct,” the Deseret News reported.

In the past, Sullivan has been accused by other activists of alleged fame-seeking behavior and inciting others to break the law so he could record it.

A man featured in videos of the riot using a police shield to smash the glass out of window on the U.S. Capitol was arrested on Friday.

Charging documents filed against U.S. Marine veteran Dominic “Spaz” Pezzola on Wednesday said video showed him smoking a cigar inside the Capitol building.

“Victory smoke in the Capitol, boys,” Pezzola said in the video. “This is f–king awesome. I knew we could take this motherf–ker over [if we] just tried hard enough.”

Charging documents said that witnesses told federal investigators Pezzola belonged to the Proud Boys and that “members of this group, which included ‘Spaz,’ said that they would have killed [Vice President] Mike Pence if given the chance.”

The 43-year-old man from Rochester, New York has been charged with obstruction of an official proceeding, destruction of government property, and illegally accessing a restricted area, the Democrat & Chronicle reported.

Retired Pennsylvania firefighter Robert Sanford was identified by federal investigators as the man pictured throwing a fire extinguisher at police during the Capitol riot, WPVI reported.

Charging documents said that the 55-year-old Sanford hit three officers – two of whom were wearing helmets – in the head with the heavy metal tank.

A friend who recognized photos of Sanford at the riot turned him in to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), WPVI reported.

The retired firefighter was a wearing a Chester Fire Department hat during the riot.

The investigation of Sanford is separate from the investigation into the fire extinguisher assault on U.S. Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who died a day later due to injuries sustained during the riot.

Sanford was arrested on Thursday and charged with knowingly entering a restricted building, disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, civil disorder and assaulting officers engaging in their official duties, WPVI reported.

The man who was shown in multiple videos of the Capitol riot carrying a Confederate flag into the U.S. Capitol surrendered to police with his son on Thursday.

Kevin Seefried admitted in a voluntary interview with police that he and his son, Hunter Seefried, had entered the building through a broken window after his son helped other rioters clear the broken glass from the frame, CNBC reported.

The complaint said Hunter Seefried was seen in the video punching the glass out of a broken window that had just been smashed by another rioter with a wooden two-by-four.

“Kevin Seefried confirmed to law enforcement agents that Hunter was asked by an individual unknown to the Seefrieds to assist with clearing the window because Hunter Seefried was wearing gloves,” according to the complaint.

Charging documents said that “while in the building, both defendants were part of a large group of individuals who verbally confronted several U.S. Capitol police officers for approximately 15 minutes.”

The Seefrieds, both of Laurel, Delaware, were identified by a co-worker of Hunter Seefried who told the FBI he had heard him bragging about “being in the Capitol with his father” on Jan. 6, CNBC reported.

The DC U.S. Attorney’s Office has charged both father and son with one count of knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority, one count of violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, and one count of depredation of government property.

The Seefrieds turned themselves in to authorities in Wilmington, Delaware on Thursday, CNBC reported.

Retired U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Larry Rendall Brock Jr. was arrested for his alleged role in the Capitol riot on Wednesday in Fort Worth, Texas, the Associated Press reported.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Weimer said that Brock, who was pictured in multiple viral images holding a bunch of zip-tie handcuffs in the Senate chamber, meant to take hostages when he entered the building.

“He means to kidnap, restrain, perhaps try, perhaps execute members of the U.S. government,” Weimer said, according to the Associated Press.

The 53-year-old Brock, who was terminated by his employer after his arrest, was charged with knowingly entering or remaining in a restricted building or grounds without lawful authority and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, the Associated Press reported.

An Olympic gold medalist who wore his U.S. Olympic Team jacket into the U.S. Capitol building during the riot is facing multiple federal charges, ABC News reported.

Klete Keller, 38, won medals at the 2000, 2004, and 2008 Olympic Summer Games.

Keller was easily identified in several of the viral videos of the Capitol riot, ABC News reported.

“Colorado state records and publicly available information list [Keller’s] height at 6 feet, 6 inches tall, and [the person in the video] appears to be one of the tallest individuals in the video depicting individuals in the Rotunda,” according to charging documents.

The Olympian was charged with obstructing law enforcement engaged in official duties, unlawfully entering Capitol grounds, and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.

Keller had been working for a real estate firm in Colorado, but he was terminated after the news of his involvement in the Capitol riot broke, ABC News reported.

Federal prosecutors said Friday they have launched more than 300 investigations into actions at the Capitol riot and said most of the suspects have been turned in to authorities by friends and family members, MSNBC reported.

Written by
Sandy Malone

Managing Editor - Twitter/@SandyMalone_ - Prior to joining The Police Tribune, Sandy wrote the Politics.Net column for the Wall Street Journal and was managing editor of Campaigns & Elections magazine. More recently, she was an internationally-syndicated columnist for Conde Nast (BRIDES), The Huffington Post, and Monsters and Critics. Sandy is married to a retired police captain and former SWAT commander.

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Written by Sandy Malone


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