On January 6
, a man who organized a "MAGA
caravan" to bring pro-Trump protesters to Washington, D.C. was arrested for punching police
officers and pushing against their shields.
Kenneth Joseph Owen Thomas, 38, of Ohio
, was arrested in Alabama
on Wednesday and charged with assaulting and resisting officers, obstructing law enforcement, and engaging in physical violence on Capitol
grounds, according to the Justice Department
Thomas was identified by online open source investigators in the weeks following the Capitol attack
, and a Stardia reporter learned his identity nearly three months ago when a tipster described Thomas as “low-hanging fruit” because he videotaped himself throughout the event and openly posted about his involvement on social media
The affidavit cites the work
of a member of the “Sedition Hunters” network, which was formed to identify violent insurrectionists after Jan. 6, as well as a tip from a Thomas neighbor who recognized him from an image released by the FBI
According to the FBI affidavit, body-camera footage from Metropolitan Police at the Capitol on Jan. 6 showed Thomas, wearing a “Veteran for Trump” camouflage baseball
cap, pushing officers’ shields, punching and hitting cops, and telling rioters to “hold the line.”
The original video is no longer available online, but Stardia reviewed a copy after Thomas' arrest. "Stand down! Stand down!" he yells at the cops, telling another officer to "honor your oath" and support the Constitution.
“We want our country back!” Thomas yelled, “This is our house
, we're not backing down!” He then yelled for peace and freedom before brawling with the cops guarding the Capitol.
“Hold the line! Hold the line!” he yells, filming himself pushing up against the police line.
The FBI special agent wrote that Thomas was “one of the first to come in and start hitting [and] pushing officers on the line.”
Thomas helped organize a caravan of dozens of cars that drove to Washington the night before the riot, and according to one participant, Thomas spoke at a stop in Richmond, Virginia
, and shared instructions about where they would gather the next morning.
A million people
have already arrived in DC, and our caravan of 50 cars from DC is just one of many that are passing through a stop point in Richmond as part of the #MidnightRide pic.twitter.com/0DSBvKH9VA — Mark Stephens (@alketamark) January 6, 2021
The day after the attack, Thomas wrote on Facebook
in a post that was not included in the FBI affidavit but was reviewed by Stardia that he had a "blast," but was sorry that it "devolved the way it did."
He blamed left-wingers hiding in the crowd, as did many other Trump supporters
who committed violence at the Capitol on Jan. 6. “Agitators infiltrated & hijacked the protest & caused problems. We called them out, took weapons away from them, and documented their actions,” he said.
“The bad actors
that caused the mayhem and destruction are seditious traitors to our nation. ANTIFA IS A DOMESTIC TERRORIST ORGANIZATION,” Thomas wrote in another Facebook post.
More than 400 people have been arrested and charged in connection with the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, in which hundreds of Trump supporters stormed the building in an attempt to halt the certification of the 2020 presidential election
, which President Joe Biden