A Florida man accused of boasting on Facebook multiple times about attending the deadly US Capitol riot was arrested Monday.
The Orlando Sentinel reported that John Maron Nassif, 55, was being charged with violent entry, disorderly conduct, and entering a restricted building or grounds without authority to do so.
“You know I was there, right?” an arrest affidavit said Nassif wrote on January 8, according to the Sentinel. “You don’t find it odd that police officer is welcoming everybody in? Considering the narrative that’s being pushed?”
Nassif is also said to have posted on January 20, weeks after the January 6 riot, acknowledging he was one of the people who breached the Capitol.
“I found myself inside the building. The Rotunda was nearly filled with people,” he’s accused of writing on Facebook, per the Sentinel. “No one was fighting or being violent. More pushing and I decided to leave.”
“It wasn’t until I was walking back that I heard a rumor someone had been shot,” the post continued. “It wasn’t till I got back to my hotel room I learned the specifics. Anyone telling you this was some type of coup etc is telling you lies.”
Nassif, if convicted, could face a year in prison, a year of probation, and a hefty fine of $100,000, the Sentinel reported.
The Capitol riot left five people, including one police officer, dead after a mob of then-President Donald Trump’s supporters sought to disrupt Congress’ certification of his defeat to Joe Biden. So far, 458 people have been arrested in connection to the insurrection.
Suspects have been identified largely by their social-media posts, as many posed for photos that led the FBI to them. One woman even identified herself by name in an interview with a reporter posted to Twitter. The woman, who referred to herself as Elizabeth, said she’s from Knoxville, Tennessee. Her face is fully visible in the tweet.
Morgan traveled from Texas to attend the Capitol riot. His main source of income is tree removal which, according to his business’s website, he got into after struggling to keep a full-time job because of a “sleep disorder.”
He only became an arborist to bankroll the launch of his internet marketing career, he wrote on the website. This, so far, has been unsuccessful. Two businesses he set up now appear to be defunct.
In recent years, he has been dedicated to growing a YouTube following for his channel – “Political Trance Tribune” – posting ‘civil rights audits’ on it for nine years. The page has nurtured a small but reasonably engaged following; 3,600 subscribers and over 100,000 views.
Civil rights auditing, or First Amendment auditing, involves individuals recording government officials in action. Auditors go to post offices, city council meetings, and crime scenes to test how officials react when they get the cameras rolling.
If officials allow filming to take place on public property, they pass the audit. If they refuse, they fail the audit and they end up being exposed on YouTube channels. Auditors say they are there to exercise their First Amendment rights but, as the Daily Beast reported in 2019, dramatic confrontations can lead to YouTube fame.
Many of the run-ins published on Morgan’s channel involve tense, dramatic interactions with police officers.
Morgan, who is described in his affidavit as an “independent journalist and a civil rights auditor,” is often seen deliberately aggravating law enforcement officers. This aligns with his anti-cop views, as expressed in a now-deleted YouTube video seen by Insider. “I happen to think we need to abolish the police,” he said in the clip from January.
Other clips show him being threatened with prosecution for provoking officers. On one occasion, Texas’ Montgomery County Court records show that an incident led to his arrest.
He was placed in Montgomery County Jail on June 9, 202o, for “interfering with traffic control and scene securement efforts,” according to an arrest warrant seen by Insider.
He believes that 9/11 was an ‘inside false flag job’
Morgan’s anti-police views are part of a wider set of conspiratorial and far-right views.
On his private Facebook page, Morgan shared posts that denied the climate crisis, challenged the fact that former President Barack Obama was born in the US, and called 9/11 an “inside false flag job.” He also frequently shared posts by the far-right publication Breitbart News and conspiracist website InfoWars.
More recently on Political Trance Tribune’s Facebook page, Morgan showed allegiance to QAnon – the disproven and discredited conspiracy theory. Some posts are captioned with the hashtag #WWG1WGA, which stands for the QAnon slogan “Where we go one, we go all.”
A video of Morgan attending a rally for then-President Donald Trump in Houston in 2018 also uses this caption.
Despite attending Trump rallies, Morgan appears to have made a small donation to a Democratic cause a year later. A man of the same name and sharing the same zip code donated $5 to ‘Friends of Andrew Yang’ on September 17, 2019, via left-leaning fundraiser ActBlue, according to data from the Federal Election Commission.
However, the vast majority of his posts are supportive of Trump and critical of former President Barack Obama.
Before the January 6 riots, his last post shows Morgan attending dinner with fellow civil rights auditors, several of whom are believed to have traveled with him to Washington, DC.
Unauthorized press passes are being used to mount legal defenses
According to his affidavit, Morgan told an FBI special agent in March that he had traveled from Maxwell, Texas, to Washington, DC on January 6 to witness “something unprecedented.”
He claimed that he merely wanted to record the event, according to court documents.
“Me and several other auditors, we were gonna go, and I said I really want to be there to report,” Morgan claimed in a now-deleted video posted after January 6 and seen by Insider.
He traveled to the Capitol with five other civil rights auditors who sometimes referred to themselves as “independent patriots,” his wife, Sheila Morgan, told special agents.
One was Matthew Wrosch, also known as the Michigan Constitutional Crusader, who provided Morgan and several others with unofficial press lanyards before the riots. This was to show that the men were “journalists” who were “disseminating information to the public,” he told Insider.
The passes, however, were not authorized by any recognized body and do not count as media credentials. Nonetheless, these homemade passes and claims of being journalists are being used as evidence by several defendants to mount First Amendment free speech defenses in court, Insider previously reported.
Wrosch said that he had no intentions of actively participating in the riots. “In my eyes, we were just supposed to observe and record,” he said. “When it’s a government unrest kind of thing, we’re not supposed to say s–t. We’re just supposed to watch what’s happening and record it.”
But while Wrosch stayed “fifty feet away” at all times and “didn’t get up close and get in the fray,” Morgan joined the melee of rioters as they forced their way into one of the Capitol’s entrances.
In an hour of self-recorded videos seen by Insider, Morgan shows himself to be sandwiched between insurrectionists as they smash a Capitol window and fight with police officers. He can be heard throughout, encouraging them, yelling “keep moving” and “send helmets forward.”
Several times, Morgan can be heard begging to be shot and teargassed. “I’m here first, y’all gonna slide in right behind me,” he said. “I’m gonna take the bullet first. I want the bullet. Give me my bullet.”
He urged people to “hold the line” and repeatedly asked to be let into the Capitol. “Hell yeah, we’re going over. We’re going in that building,” he said.
‘I bought into the provocateurs’ trap.’
A couple of days after the deadly insurrection, Morgan did a two-hour-long live stream about why he joined in with the storming of the Capitol. Insider recovered the footage.
In the live stream, he explained to his subscribers what had initially inspired him to attend. “I went on January 6 with the knowledge and belief that the election was rigged,” he said.
He then spoke, at length, about the media being a “Nazi propaganda machine,” and ‘Q’ being right.
The 60-year-old did admit that he joined the mob in pushing their way into the Capitol. “When I got up to the doorway, I participated in the heave-ho, heave-ho,” he said. It felt like the “right thing at the moment,” he added.
Morgan apologized several times for falling into “antifa’s trap” and blamed his actions on “emotion” and “herd mentality.”
“I was wrong,” he said. “When I went on that Capitol grounds and ‘antifa’ sent that message out that what we’re there for is to take the Capitol, I bought into it. I bought into the provocateurs’ trap.”
There is no evidence of ‘antifa’ being responsible for the violence during the Capitol riots.
Morgan told his subscribers that he was prepared for any potential punishment. “If I did something heinous and wrong and I have to pay for it, I’m a grown man, I can pay for it,” he said. “I’m not gonna scream and holler and cry. I did what I did out of a pure heart and pure intent. I wish I hadn’t done it. I wish I hadn’t fallen into antifa’s trap.”
He is charged with aiding and abetting the insurrection
Morgan may soon “pay for it.”
His videos were supplied to the FBI on January 19 and he was then identified by special agents. On April 9, he surrendered to Austin agents and was charged for his role in the insurrection.
Morgan is now accused of knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building without lawful authority, violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, obstruction of an official proceeding, and aiding and abetting. If convicted, he could face several years in jail.
Experts say that a legal defense claiming to be a journalist is unlikely to stand in court.
Lucy Dalglish, the dean of the University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism, told the Associated Press that journalists need to be credentialed and cannot claim to be reporting if there is evidence to suggest they were encouraging the violent mob.
For Morgan, the lessons learned from the events of January 6 might have come too late.
“I’ve learned a lot,” he said in his live stream. “From this day on, my auditing is gonna be a lot different.”
One week after a federal judge decided Jacob Chansley would remain in jail until his trial, the court has released two new videos that appear to disprove one of Chansley’s claims about his participation in the January 6 insurrection.
In a jailhouse interview with “60 Minutes+” earlier this month, the self-described QAnon Shaman, his lawyer, and his mother all repeated the claim that Chansley had only entered the Capitol because police officers had “waved” protesters in, signaling to Chansley that the move was “acceptable.”
But in a March 8 motion remanding Chansley into custody, Judge Royce Lamberth skewered Chansley’s story, saying the 33-year-old “blatantly lied” about his alleged invitation into the building and referenced video footage obtained by the government that Lamberth said disproved Chansley’s claims about Capitol police officers.
“Not only is [Chansley] unable to offer evidence substantiating his claim that he was waved into the Capitol, but evidence submitted by the government proves this claim false,” Lamberth wrote. “A video submitted by the government captures protesters breaking through the windows of the Capitol building.”
On Tuesday, the court released that footage.
The two videos, first obtained by Law & Crime, depict the chaos inside and outside the US Capitol on January 6 as a pro-Trump mob appears to accost Capitol Police officers and eventually begins smashing the windows to enter the federal building en masse.
In the first video, Chansley can be seen standing on scaffolding in the air, holding an American flag as the crowd chants “stop the seal.” Chansley is easily identifiable in both videos by his outfit, which includes red, white, and blue face paint, a horned headdress, and a bare chest.
The second video depicts a similar mob near the building, screaming “this is our country!” The protesters begin banging on the windows until they shatter and then start climbing through to enter the building. At the same time, Chansley and several others can be seen entering the building through a door.
It is unclear how or when the doors were opened.
There don’t appear to be any police officers or security guards near the door as the crowd storms in, and no officers can be seen in the video waving protesters in.
“The government’s video shows that [Chansley] blatantly lied during his interview with ’60 Minutes+’ when he said that police officers waved him into the building,” Lamberth wrote. “Further this video confirms [Chansley] did not…enter, as defense counsel represents, in the ‘third wave’ of the breach. To the contrary, he quite literally spearheaded it.”
Chansley’s lawyer, Al Watkins, however, told Insider Tuesday that “it is strongly suggested the videos are one dimensional.”
“Subsequent scrutiny of the video footage (including the The New Yorker video specifically cited by the Government) has given rise to the identification of numerous ambiguities, irregularities, inconsistencies, timeline issues and concern about the assertions of the Government about the actions of Mr. Chansley based on the Government’s video footage,” Watkins said in a statement.
Watkins also issued a request for members of the public to “provide any video footage which depicts the Shaman in or around the Capitol on January 6, 2021,” and has set up an email address for the public to send any evidence, according to the outlet.
The Arizona-native is facing six charges and up to 20 years in prison over his role in the riot. In addition to accusations that he illegally trespassed when breaching the Capitol, court records claim Chansley also clashed with Capitol police officers, went into the Senate chamber, and left a note on then-Vice President Mike Pence’s dais saying “it’s only a matter of time, justice is coming.”
More than two months after the deadly Capitol insurrection, the arrests keep coming.
Last week, the Justice Department filed charges against Christopher Worrell, an alleged Proud Boy, over his role in the January 6 riots, according to court documents.
Worrell is accused of pepper-spraying Capitol police officers during the chaos of the siege, among additional charges, including engaging in violence and disorderly conduct on restricted grounds, knowingly entering restricted grounds, violent entry onto Capitol grounds, and obstructing Congressional proceedings.
Prosecutors say the 49-year-old traveled from his home of Naples, Florida to Washington, DC, to participate in the pro-Trump rally on January 6. In photographic evidence from that day gathered by officials, Worrell can be seen wearing a tactical vest and radio earpiece and armed with pepper-spray.
Charging documents said a tipster acquainted with Worrell’s live-in girlfriend contacted FBI officials in mid-January to identify Worrell in pictures from the riot. The tipster reportedly said Worrell’s girlfriend told their mutual acquaintance that he was a member of the far-right nationalist group the Proud Boys.
An agent then interviewed Worrell about his participation in the insurrection and inquired about possible planned violence for the upcoming January 20 presidential inauguration. According to the criminal complaint, Worrell was “extremely agitated and upset that the FBI was at his house.”
Worrell eventually acknowledged he had been in DC on January 6, but denied entering the building and any other wrongdoing, legal records said. When asked about his participation in the Proud Boys, he once again became “agitated.”
Worrell reportedly told the agent that the “Proud Boys were not a racist white supremacist group like the media tries to portray.”
Charging documents include photos of Worrell from January 6 pictured with other alleged Proud Boys and making the “OK” symbol, a hand motion associated with white nationalism. While the legal documents do not include any photos of Worrell inside the Capitol, one does depict him pointing his pepper spray at an out-of-frame target where officials say “law enforcement are positioned.”
The alleged Proud Boy was arrested Friday, March 13, according to Naples Daily News. A Florida judge released Worrell after his first court appearance, but the Justice Department immediately appealed the decision, and the chief judge of the federal court in Washington, DC, halted his release pending further review, CNN reported.
Worrell’s lawyer, Landon Miller, told the news outlet that his client plans to plead not guilty and denies using pepper spray against police. Worrell via Miller also joined the growing number of Capitol riot arrestees to blame former President Donald Trump for his participation in the insurrection.
“Mr. Worrell is overcharged without supporting evidence,” Miller told CNN. “Mr. Worrell adamantly asserts that at no time did he pepper spray toward any law enforcement personnel nor intended to spray any law enforcement personnel. He also asserts that he went to Washington, DC, and then the Capitol grounds at the direction of former President Trump.”
A US Army reservist who is charged with taking part in the Capitol riot was well-known by his co-workers as a “white supremacist,” according to new evidence from federal prosecutors.
Among many other revelations, court documents first published by Politico also reveal that Timothy Hale-Cusanelli was a Holocaust denier who shaved his beard into a “Hitler mustache” and regularly praised the Nazis.
The evidence against Hale-Cusanelli resulted from an extensive investigation by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.
NCIS special agents interviewed 44 members of the NWS Earle Security Forces, where Hale-Cusanelli worked and held a secret-level security clearance, in a bid to keep him in prison while he awaits trial following his January 15 arrest.
Of the 44 people interviewed, a majority – 34 – agreed with the description of Hale-Cusanelli as “having extremist or radical views pertaining to the Jewish people, minorities, and women,” according to the court documents.
An unnamed Navy Petty Officer stated that the Capitol rioter had said that “Hitler should have finished the job.”
One Navy Seamen said that Hale-Cusanelli had once said that “babies born with any deformities or disabilities should be shot in the forehead.” He also recalled an incident where he said that if he were a Nazi, he would “kill all the Jews and eat them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.”
A supervisor told investigators that she once had to discipline Hale-Cusanelli for wearing a “Hitler mustache” to work.
The results of these interviews were published as was a rebuttal to a letter of support from Sgt. John Getz. Hale-Cusanelli’s supervisor wrote a letter to the court urging them to release him on bond, adding that he was “appalled at how he [Hale-Cusanelli] was slandered in the press in regards to him being a white supremacist.”
Prosecutors, however, pointed out that previous statements from Getz contradicted this assertion. He had previously said that Hale-Cusanelli was a “Nazi sympathizer” and a “Holocaust denier.”
The Capitol rioter’s lawyer argued that his client should not be detained pending trial. He told the court that Hale-Cusanelli is not charged with a crime of violence and is not a Nazi sympathizer, according to the court documents.
Prosecutors dismissed these claims, citing photographic evidence of Hale-Cusanelli sporting a Hitler mustache, numerous racist photos saved on his phone, and a now-deleted YouTube channel of his in which he expressed hateful views.
Hale-Cusanelli is one of the many insurrectionists believed to have been a white supremacist. Groups in and around the Capitol wore regalia associated with far-right, racist, and extremist groups on January 6, Insider’s Susie Neilson and Morgan McFall-Johnsen previously reported.
Following the Capitol siege, the FBI had to screen troops from the DC National Guard to ensure that they did not have ties to far-right ideologies. This put the Pentagon under increasing pressure to address white supremacist ties within the US military, Insider’s John Haitlwanger said.
A man charged with assaulting a cop during the Capitol riot has admitted that he buried the officer’s police badge in his backyard.
Thomas Siddick of Buffalo, New York, was arrested on Friday on five different charges including assaulting, resisting or impeding officers and taking a thing of value by force and violence or intimidation.
Sibick was caught assaulting Officer Mike Fanone of Washington DC’s Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) on video captured by the bodycam he was wearing, according to the criminal complaint.
He took Fanone’s police badge and radio while he was being beaten and tased by a group of rioters who had pulled him away from the police line, causing him to have a concussion and be hospitalized.
Sibick told the FBI that he had heard someone say “We got one! We got one! Kill him with his own gun!,” but he was just trying to help.
He is not accused of beating or tasing Fanone, 40, a father of four daughters who said he yelled to the crowd that he had children to “try to appeal to someone’s humanity,” according to CBS News.
He said some rioters surrounded him to help him leave and he spent a day and a half in hospital following the attack. Through WUSA9, Fanone told them: “Thank you, but f— you for being there.”
Sibbick was first questioned on January 27, at which point he denied even being in Washington DC on the night of the insurrection.
This is despite him posting images of himself on Instagram holding a US Capitol Police shield and attempting to enter the building.
He then had a second interview in early February whereby he maintained that he had not been involved in the attack on Fanone.
However, later the month, Siddick said he wanted to “recant” his initial statement and admitted he took the badge and radio.
Although he originally said he thrown them in a trash can in a hotel dumspter on DC’s Constitution Avenue out of fear of being arrested, he later told an FBI agent that he “wanted to do the right thing.”
He said he “had buried the badge in his backyard,” purchased a metal detector to find it, dug it up, and wanted to return it.
A federal magistrate judge in New York ordered Thomas Sibick to be released, the Huffington Post noted. However, the government filed an emergency appeal on Friday asking the DC judge to order him back into custody on account of being charged with a violent crime.
Organizers were emboldened by President Donald Trump’s urges to protest the results of the 2020 election with him, despite Democrat Joe Biden’s election victory. While members of Congress were meeting inside the Capitol building day to certify the results, supporters organized an attempted coup and stormed the Capitol building.
Upon news that the riot breached the Capitol building, lawmakers began to shelter in place and many evacuated.
Nine men who were part of the storm were charged with acts of violence against women, HuffPost reported. Some had restraining orders taken out against them because of allegations of domestic violence.
Three of the nine men are veterans, HuffPost’s Alanna Vagianos reported. Men with militaristic pasts can create “dire consequences for women,” Vagianos reported, citing Dr. Miranda Christou, a senior fellow at the Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right.
“You have forms of masculinity that depend on militarized expressions: the uniforms, the guns, the paraphernalia, the whole idea of the military structure and discipline,” Christou told HuffPost. “When the institution of the military infiltrates social life and that sense of masculinity and what makes you a man depends on that ― depends on the gun on the side of your hip ― that becomes a problem for women.”
One man, Larry Rendall Brock Jr., stormed the building carrying zip-tie handcuffs and wearing full combat gear. Brock had sent several threatening messages to his ex-wife, HuffPost reported. He was described as a “terroristic threat of family/household” during one call to the police.
Another man, Guy Reffitt, was spotted and photographed carrying tactical gear during the attempted coup. Reffitt in 2018 pushed his wife onto a bed and began to choke her, according to a police report obtained by HuffPost.
Mathew Capsel of Marseille, Illinois, violated a protection order after his arrest in Washington. In 2012, he had been arrested for “battery, mob action and robbery,” HuffPost reported, having allegedly struck a woman “3-4 times in the head.”
Other men who attended the riot have records marked by similar charges.
Jacob Lewis, for example, had a restraining order for domestic violence taken out against him in California, according to HuffPost. Samuel Pinho Camargo had in 2016 “intentionally caused bodily harm” to his sister.
Dominic Pezzola is a member of the Proud Boys, HuffPost reported. Police removed a shotgun from his home in 2005 after a call concerning a domestic dispute.
Andrew Ryan Bennett also wore a Proud Boys hat entering the Capitol building, according to HuffPost. He received an 18-month prison sentence after attacking a woman at a tattoo parlor in 2003.
Edward Hemenway served five years in prison on charges related to rape, sexual battery, and criminal confinement, according to HuffPost. He handcuffed his wife in 2004 and put duct-tape over her mouth.
And Donovan Ray Crowl had been arrested in 2005 for domestic violence charges that have since been dropped, HuffPost reported.
William Merry Jr. was identified after federal authorities became aware of a video in which both he and his niece, Emily Hernandez, could be seen holding a broken piece of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s nameplate, reported NBC News.
A federal complaint against Merry Jr. was unsealed on Thursday.
Merry is charged with knowingly entering or remaining in a restricted building, disorderly conduct, disruptive conduct in the Capitol buildings, impeding the conduct of government, and theft of government property, according to The Hill.
At least three people contacted the FBI with Hernandez’s identity after watching the clip, including a childhood friend, the Daily Beast reported.
This resulted in her being charged on January 15.
A charging document for Merry, seen by AP, also states that several tipsters provided the FBI with information that resulted in his arrest.
Merry was taken into custody on Thursday after police searched his home, reported AP.
His lawyer, Ethan Corlija, told the news agency: “He’s not the type of individual who believes in any violence or any conduct that would harm anybody, so it’s a little atypical for him.”
He continued: “He believes he had a right to attend a rally and voice his political beliefs like we all do, but he does not in any way shape or form condone any type of violence or property destruction or any type of insurrection of the government.”
Thomas Baranyi was part of the mob breaking down the doors into the Senate chamber when Capitol police shot the woman next to him.
She was later identified as Air Force veteran and fervent Trump supporter Ashli Babbitt. She became one of five people who died due to the US Capitol insurrection on January 6.
“It could have been me but she went in first. It was one of us,” Baranyi later told a local television reporter, in what has now become a viral interview.
Wearing a New York Giants sweatshirt and a pro-Trump baseball cap, the 28-year-old New Jersey native flashed his hand, bloody from the neck wound that killed Babbitt, in front of the camera as he explained what had happened.
“We tore through the scaffolding, through flash bangs and tear gas, and blitzed our way in through all the chambers just trying to get into Congress or whoever we could get in to and tell them that we need some kind of investigation into this [election],” he told the reporter. “And what ends up happening is that someone might have ended up dead, and that’s not the kind of government we can have.”
Baranyi looks pale and in shock. “They don’t care,” he said, pointing to the Capitol building.
“I mean, they think we’re a joke. $2,000 checks was a joke to them. There were people filming us, laughing at us as we walked down the street…It was a joke to them until we got inside and then all of a sudden, guns came out,” he added.
Weeks after the deadly incident that shocked the nation, a more thorough portrait of Baranyi, a former Peace Corps veteran, is starting to take shape.
A troubled childhood
Baranyi’s teenage years were marked by his mother and father’s messy divorce, the consequent custody battle, and financial insecurity.
Baranyi’s parents – Nancy and Drake – separated in 2005 when he was 13-years-old. Following the separation, Baranyi and his two younger brothers moved into a house in Hamilton, New Jersey, with their mother and grandmother, Elizabeth.
However, according to a witness statement made by Elizabeth in a New Jersey appellate court, Baranyi’s mother was kicked out of the home after she was found “running around” with local contractor Jim Hranek.
Thomas’s grandmother – then in her mid-70s – temporarily became the three boys’ primary caregiver. She described how she was compelled to do so because neither parent was fit to look after children.
In her witness statement, Elizabeth cited Nancy and Drake’s histories of alcohol addictions and claimed that there were repeated domestic violence incidents between the parents.
Hranek had kissed an ex-girlfriend’s eight-year-old daughter while undressed and under the influence of drugs. He pled guilty to third-degree endangering the welfare of a child. The incident took place in 2000.
Drake then reignited the custody battle in a bid to prevent Hranek from having unsupervised contact with his children. Hranek was deemed to be at “low risk” of a repeat offense after a psychological assessment.
While the two younger brothers remained at Hranek’s home, Thomas decided to live with his father in a “crowded” apartment – according to a legal document. A judge noted that while Thomas’s mother had achieved sobriety, his father was likely still abusing drugs and alcohol.
Drake, a repairman for New Jersey’s Department of Corrections, also struggled with his finances, bankruptcy, and faced his property being repossessed on several occasions.
‘From a very young age, he was disillusioned with the government’
Baranyi attended Hamilton High School West, a public school in Mercer County, New Jersey. Two classmates told Insider that he was nerdy and exceptionally quiet.
While there, he was an active member of the Anime and Gaming Club. Amanda Rubi, who was also involved, told Insider that he was part of the “quintessential nerd group.” The social circle was also frequently referred to by others as “the island of misfit toys,” according to another classmate.
Rubi was shocked to discover that Baranyi had been involved in the Capitol building’s siege because he had been so reserved during high school. “He wasn’t weird or anything but he just didn’t really talk much,” she said.
She knew that his parents were getting divorced but she thought, from the outside looking in, that “they seemed like a relatively normal family.”
Baranyi’s childhood best friend, Patrick Marrazzo, saw a more combative side to Baranyi. “He was a confrontational kid,” he told Insider. “He even bit a couple of guys.” He added that the older kids bullied him.
“He liked aggression,” Marrazzo continued.
This, he said, prompted Baranyi to join the school’s varsity football team. “It was an outlet for him. He was disgruntled,” he added.
Baranyi had always been interested in politics
Baranyi also seethed with political resentment from a young age. “He was disillusioned with the government,” his best friend said.
Marrazzo and Baranyi frequently chatted politics around the lunch table, in the school cafeteria. The discussions – taking place during the final years of President George W. Bush’s second term – focused on economic issues and the Iraq War, Marrazzo said.
While these political conversations were animated, they were never radical. “It wasn’t anything nuts at the time,” he recalled.
It was only after Baranyi left high school that his political views grew more extreme. Marrazzo said that, in 2011, Baranyi told him that he thought 9/11 was staged and part of a false flag operation in a Facebook message.
Shortly after, Baranyi told friends about his plans to go off the radar. “He seemed like he was in the early stages of almost being a doomsday prepper,” Marrazzo explained.
A few months after this conversation, Baranyi deleted his Facebook and stopped speaking to his high school friends. He has not been in touch since 2011, said Marrazzo.
After high school, Baranyi attended Mercer Community College. He was academically successful and in his second year, he made it on the Dean’s List for academic excellence.
After completing community college, Baranyi was then accepted onto a highly-regarded teacher training course at The College of New Jersey in Trenton. While there, he had a keen interest in world history.
In 2016, as part of the college’s celebration of student achievements, he was asked to present a talk on nationalism.
However, there is no evidence that a wedding ended up taking place and a former colleague of Baranyi told Insider that the relationship didn’t survive. Fury did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
A former colleague of his, who did not want to be named for this article, told Insider that the job required them to teach English to young Albanians – a task Baranyi seemed to be engaged in and enjoyed.
But signs of hostility towards other members of the team quickly emerged as the former colleague, who described their relationship with Baranyi as “sibling-like,” said that his “standoffish” and “very opinionated” behavior made it increasingly difficult to work with him.
“He reacted very strongly – negatively – to many things, some innocuous, some rightfully upsetting, but it was almost always an overreaction. He was quick to anger,” the coworker told Insider.
The former colleague also said that while other volunteers were eager to learn about Albania’s culture and values, Baranyi had no interest in mingling with locals.
Although previous reports state the Baranyi was discharged from the Peace Corps, this coworker claims that he finished his two years of service.
After the Peace Corps, Baranyi enlisted in the Marine Corps in July 2020, but left active duty before completing entry-level training on Parris Island in South Carolina, a spokesperson for the Marine Corps Training and Education Command confirmed to Insider.
According to his former Peace Corps coworker, who remained in touch with him on Instagram, Baranyi was looking into getting back into teaching.
Months later, he resurfaced on television standing in front of the US Capitol.
In the viral interview, Baranyi stated his full name, which made it an easy task for the FBI to identify him.
Last Tuesday, Baranyi was arrested by the FBI and charged with trespassing into the Capitol building and interrupting Congress’s work.
In an appearance in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, the judge ordered Baranyi’s release pending trial on the condition that he turn over his passport. A lawyer for the US government said that he is considered a potential flight risk due to his extensive travel abroad.
Baranyi has also been told to remain in New Jersey and stay away from DC, except for court hearings.
The National Guard revealed it would be doing additional vetting of guardsmen serving as security during President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.
The group made the move following the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol Building in which several members of law enforcement, and at least one National Guardsmen, were charged with participating in the insurrection.
A spokesperson for the Guard said guardsmen are being told, “if they see or hear something that is not appropriate, they should report it to their chain of command.”
The National Guard is running additional background checks on its guardsmen ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday, in an attempt to weed out potential extremists.
The move comes following the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol Building in which a corporal in the Virginia National Guard, Jacob Fracker, was one of several members of law enforcement arrested in connection with the riots.
National Guard spokesperson Major Matt Murphy, USAF, told Insider the reserve branch was working with the Secret Service and the FBI to determine “which service members supporting the national special security event for the Inauguration require additional background screening.”
Murphy said the Guard is also conducting additional training “that if they see or hear something that is not appropriate, they should report it to their chain of command.”
Fracker, a National Guard reservist, and his Rocky Mount Police Department co-worker Thomas Robertson were both charged with federal offenses after they took a selfie at the riots, and posted it on social media. While neither man was on-duty at the time of the insurrection, both have been placed on administrative leave.
The FBI continues to review footage from the insurrection to identify additional participants with law enforcement and military ties.
While the Secret Service is overseeing the security logistics for the inauguration, the Guard, along with local law enforcement and military groups, will be taking part in providing the actual muscle for the event.
“Any type of activity that involves violence, civil disobedience, or a breach of the peace may be punishable under the Uniform Code of Military Justice or under state or federal law,” he said.
Gen. Daniel R. Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, told the AP that “If there’s any indication that any of our soldiers or airmen are expressing things that are extremist views, it’s either handed over to law enforcement or dealt with the chain of command immediately.”