Smoked out: Tips, videos lead to Capitol riot suspects in NY
An upstate New York man who boasted in a Facebook video that he was in the “Capitol building smoking with all my people!” and a Long Island man who told a friend on Instagram “I’d storm the Capitol for you any day” were arrested Wednesday in connection with the insurrection earlier this month, federal authorities said.
James Bonet of Glens Falls and Christopher Ortiz of Huntington were charged with knowingly entering or remaining in a restricted building without lawful authority and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, according to court papers. Bonet turned himself into the FBI and Ortiz was arrested separately Wednesday morning, authorities said. At least 200 people have been charged in connection with the unrest in Washington, the capstone of former President Donald Trump’s baseless attempts to overturn the election results.
The FBI said it was tipped off to videos posted on social media that indicated both Bonet and Ortiz were in the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. They included videos on Bonet’s Facebook page showing him inside the Capitol and videos posted to Ortiz’s Instagram account showing his perspective while walking with a crowd through a Capitol hallway and yelling “Onward, Onward!” court papers said.
A lawyer who helped arrange Ortiz’s surrender to authorities Wednesday said Ortiz hadn’t picked a lawyer to represent him in court and would likely be assigned one by the judge. Ortiz was expected to make an initial court appearance by teleconference Wednesday afternoon. Bonet was released after an appearance in an Albany courtroom, though a judge restricted his travel to New York’s northern federal court district during the teleconference. A call seeking comment was made to Bonet’s public defender.
In one video titled “Made it in,” Bonet can be heard saying: “We’re taking it back! We are taking it back, we made it in the building!” according to court papers.
The Bonet tipster, a person who knew him through mutual friends, said some videos on his Facebook account were deleted, including one that showed him smoking what appeared to be marijuana inside the Capitol.
Bonet, who works as a shift manager for an undisclosed employer in Saratoga Springs, openly talked about government conspiracies at work and about false claims that last year’s presidential election was stolen, court papers said.
The FBI said it learned about Ortiz the day after the riot when one of his coworkers ratted him out using the the bureau’s online tip portal. The person, who’d known Ortiz for about five years and followed him on Instagram, pointed agents to his online videos.
Another tipster, a high school classmate of Ortiz’s, showed agents a video from Ortiz’s Instagram account of people scaling walls and large crowds reaching an entrance to the Capitol as a man believed to be Ortiz screamed “Yeah! We’re at the door!” court papers said.
That tipster messaged Ortiz on the app, admonishing him for being at the Capitol and asking him to explain what he was doing there, according to screenshots of the conversation included in court papers.
Ortiz responded that he was, “participating in government,” according to the papers.
When the tipster noted that the FBI was searching for people involved in the riot, the papers said, Ortiz wrote back: “Lol they can come and get me; I didn’t break or vandalize or steal; I walked through and out.”
In a subsequent message, Ortiz added: “I’d storm the Capitol for you any day.”
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