Capitol Rioters Being Caught By Their Technology

Even as the domestic terrorists incited by Donald Trump and his Republican allies were ransacking the U.S. Capitol, law enforcement authorities began gathering still photos and video that the criminals were proudly posting to social media to use in locating and prosecuting them.

“Just because you’ve left the D.C. region, you can still expect a knock on the door if we find out that you were part of the criminal activity at the Capitol.” That warning from Steven D’Antuono of the FBI’s field office in Washington, D.C., is no hollow threat, as Adam Christian Johnson of Parrish, Fla. found out Friday night when he was arrested on a federal warrant.

Johnson is the man seen in the viral photo that shows him smiling and waving to the camera as he’s carrying House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) lectern. The 36-year-old Johnson is a stay-at-home-dad who lives with his physician wife and their five children. He remains behind bars with no bond as he awaits trial.

Johnson was easily identified and located by authorities through his social media accounts. Before he deleted or took them down, Johnson’s social media accounts included posts stating that he was Washington, D.C., ahead of the riots.


Richard Barrett, the Arkansas man pictured with his foot up on Pelosi’s desk, was identified through social media the day after the riot. He turned himself in to the Benton County Sheriff Department early Friday and remains in custody. He is  charged with at least three counts: knowingly entering and remaining in a restricted building, violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, and theft of public property.

(Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

Cellphone records also are assisting in the identification of anyone who was there that day. The rioters probably were not aware that the U.S. Capitol, more than most buildings, has its own extensive cellular and wireless data infrastructure. Any phone connected to it that day basically became a tracking device. Phone records make determining the owners of these devices incredibly easy. Investigators can also identify devices and users who may have connected wittingly or automatically to congressional guest WiFi networks.

“Some people were being very blatant and flippant about it, smiling for the camera — those people are going to be very easy to find,” said Doug Kouns, a retired FBI special agent and founder of the Indiana-based private-investigation firm Veracity IIR, in an interview with the Washington Post.

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