Freedom and jobs at risk as online sleuths and federal authorities work to identify Capitol rioters, get them fired

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – As they rummaged through the hallowed halls of the United States Capitol, rioters seemed oblivious to the fact that more than statutes were watching their every move. The rioters reveled in their brief sojourn into felonies and federal offenses, perhaps not comprehending the consequences they would face.

Now that the Capitol has returned to its majestic purpose, a bit battered and bruised not unlike the country it represents, the hands of justice are reaching out in the form of FBI investigations and online sleuthing.

Although some will face serious federal criminal charges, many are feeling a more rapid punishment in the form of unemployment.

Most of the rioters who stormed the Capitol on Wednesday did so without covering their faces, and many even live-streamed their antics for the world to see on social media outlets like Twitter or Instagram. Some gave interviews to the news media, often from inside the very building where they had trespassed.

Now law enforcement authorities and regular people are working feverishly to identify individuals who took part in the assault against lawmakers, who were certifying the election in the House and Senate chambers with the Vice President at the time.

Many have already been identified, with their employers handing out the first punishment.

Attorney Paul Davis posted a video on social media while participating in protests on the grounds of the Capitol. During the self-made video, Paul said:

“I just got teargassed, that was not fun.”

He went on to say that he just wanted officials to audit the vote count. He claimed that the Dominion election machines needed auditing and that the entire process could be completed in two days.

He later posted on Facebook Stories that he was “peacefully demonstrating” and, “I said ‘trying to get into the Capitol,” meaning to voice a protest. Not in any violent way.”

Previously employed by Goosehead Insurance in Texas, Davis found himself unemployed following his riot participation. His company tweeted:

“Paul Davis, Associate General Counsel, is no longer employed by Goosehead.”

It is unclear if Davis was fired or resigned from his position.

Social media sites have been popping up in all the major outlets attempting to identify people who took part in the invasion of the Capitol. Twitter accounts like Gaglad are putting pictures and account postings online asking for help putting names to faces.

The identification of Rick Saccone was not that difficult since he was a former Pennsylvania state representative. Saccone posted a video on Facebook titled. “We are storming the Capitol,” Saccone said in the video.

“Our vanguard has broken through the barricades. We will save this nation. Are you with me?

Saccone lost a Senate race against Conor Lamb, a Democratic Senator who almost started a brawl on the Senate floor yesterday as he gave an impassioned speech reacting to the assault on the Capitol and calling out politicians he felt were complicit in the uprising.


Saint Vincent College has announced that Saccone submitted his resignation from his job as a professor at the institution. Saint Vincent College said in a statement:

“As a result of that investigation, Dr. Saccone has submitted and we have accepted his letter of resignation, effective immediately. He will no longer be associated with Saint Vincent College in any capacity,”

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Saccone told western Pennsylvania newspaper The Tribune-Review:

“I decided to resign for the betterment of the school. I’ve been there 21 years. I didn’t want all this terrible media kerfuffle to tarnish the school. I decided it would be better if I just resigned.”

Several people were arrested at the Capitol during the unrest, including Brad Rukstales from the Chicago suburb of Inverness. Rukstales, CEO of Schaumburg-based tech company Cogensia, was arrested and his company is stepping back from him:

“Brad Rukstales, as an employee of Cogensia, was acting as an individual during his arrest, nothing related to Cogensia. We’re currently taking the situation seriously, and we’re working with our attorneys and we’re investigating it, and he’s currently on an indefinite leave of absence from the company.

Cogensia also tweeted about the arrest:

“Our CEO, Brad Rukstales’ participated in the recent Washington DC protests.  Those actions were his own and not acting on behalf Cogensia nor do his actions in any way reflect the policies or values of our firm.  He has been placed on leave of absence while we assess further.”

Rukstales was tracked down at his home by CBS Chicago. During a brief interview at his front door, he said, “I regret my part in it. That’s all I can say right now.” When asked if he went inside the Capitol, Rukstales admitted he did, but would not answer why he did so.

Along with the online sleuths and journalists, federal investigators are also searching through the thousands of hours of available video and social media posts to identify those who took part in the insurgency.

It is unclear just who the FBI is targeting with the wide-ranging investigation. Questions remain whether all identified persons participating in the event will face federal charges, or if federal authorities will be more selective.

FBI Director Christopher Wray took a hardline when asked by reporters what the aim of the FBI investigation would be:

“The violence and destruction of property at the U.S. Capitol building showed a blatant and appalling disregard for our institutions of government and the orderly administration of the democratic process.  We’ve said consistently, we do not tolerate violent agitators and extremists who use the guise of First Amendment-protected activity to incite violence and wreak havoc.”

Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen also did not leave room for much lenience:

“[W]e will continue to methodically assess evidence, charge crimes, and make arrests in the coming days and weeks to ensure that those responsible are held accountable under the law.”

Potential charges for involvement in the attack at the Capitol range from trespass to seditious conspiracy. Other charges could include resisting arrest, entering a restricted building or grounds, destruction of government property, assault on a federal law enforcement officer, and inciting a riot.

Whatever the outcome, those participants who thought they were just exercising their First Amendment rights may be in for a surprise. Not only did they commit serious federal crimes and state felonies punishable by long prison sentences, but they did so alongside some much more dangerous actors.

The first charges were filed Thursday and included a 70-year-old Alabama man who possessed a rifle and eleven Molotov cocktails during the event. The man, identified as Lonnie Coffman, is being held in D.C. Central Lockup.

It is also important to remember that five people have lost their lives in this tragic incident. One young woman, Ashli Babbitt, was shot by Capitol police as she forced her way through a door window toward lawmakers. Three others died of medical emergencies during the event.

A Capitol police officer was also killed by rioters during the incident. A federal murder investigation has been opened into the death of Officer Brian Sicknick. The 42-year-old officer died from injuries sustained when he was struck in the head with a fire extinguisher.

Capitol police released a statement which said:

“(Officer Sicknick) was injured while physically engaging with protesters. He returned to his division office and collapsed.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ordered the flags at the Capitol to be flown at half-staff in Officer Sicknick’s honor. She issued a statement which read:

“On behalf of the House of Representatives, I send our deepest condolences to the family and loved ones of Officer Brian Sicknick, who died after defending the Capitol complex and protecting those who serve and work here.

 “The perpetrators of Officer Sicknick’s death must be brought to justice. The violent and deadly act of insurrection targeting the Capitol, our temple of American Democracy, and its workers was a profound tragedy and stain on our nation’s history.

“But because of the heroism of our first responders and the determination of the Congress, we were not, and we will never be, diverted from our duty to the Constitution and the American people.”

 

 

 

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