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Meet some of the violent Jan. 6 rioters Donald Trump keeps calling ‘hostages’

WASHINGTON — The way former President Donald Trump tells it, the men and women who stormed the Capitol because they believed his lies about the 2020 presidential election are “hostages” and “unbelievable patriots” who are being mistreated by the justice system.

But an NBC News review of hundreds of cases against Jan. 6 defendants found that just 15 people charged in connection with the Capitol attack are currently being held pretrial at the order of federal judges. That number of pretrial detainees has decreased in recent months, as more and more Jan. 6 defendants have taken plea deals or been found guilty, and as federal judges have been hesitant to hold new arrestees in pre-trial custody more than three years after the attack.

Though Trump said on Jan. 7, 2021, that “those who broke the law” during the Capitol riot would “pay,” he has made his defense of incarcerated Jan. 6 defendants a major plank of his 2024 campaign. Trump has called Jan. 6 detainees “hostages” and even opens rallies by playing a recording from the “J6 Prison Choir.” Trump has said he’ll pardon “a large portion” of the rioters “very early on” if he wins in 2024 and recently vowed to “free the Jan. 6 Hostages” as one of his “first acts as your next President.”

More than 1,350 people have been charged in connection with the Jan. 6 attack, and prosecutors have secured more than 950 convictions. Low-level defendants routinely receive sentences of probation, but about 500 have received periods of incarceration.

The overwhelming majority of those charged have been released before trial. NBC News identified 15 defendants who have not been convicted or entered a plea who are currently incarcerated; seven of them are among the 27 Jan. 6 defendants being held at the D.C. Department of Corrections, as Just Security reported. (Trump hasn’t clearly defined who he is referring to, but those who have pleaded guilty or been convicted by a federal judge in the United States are, by definition, not “hostages.”) In most of those cases, a judge found overwhelming evidence that the defendants had committed criminal acts of violence against law enforcement.  Others had fled from authorities, either as law enforcement attempted to take them into custody or when they were out on release after their initial arrest. Two are being held while they are evaluated for mental health issues.

Below are the current pretrial detainees identified by NBC News, the charges they face and the status of their cases. All of those who have been arraigned so far have pleaded not guilty; four are still awaiting arraignment.

Daniel Ball: Charged with assaulting law enforcement and throwing an explosive device

Daniel Ball, was previously convicted of two counts of battery on law enforcement officers in a case unrelated to his conduct at the Capitol. His Florida probation officer in that case identified him when the FBI showed the officer photos of Ball at the Capitol. The FBI says that after breaching the building, Ball went around to the lower west tunnel, where some of the worst violence of the day took place, and shoved officers fighting to keep the mob out of the building. Ball then moved back, “hunched over, and looked down at something in front of his torso” before hurling an object — an explosive device, authorities say — into the lower west tunnel packed with officers fending off the mob.

Daniel Ball. (FBI)

“The device flashed and exploded multiple times on the officers in the tunnel. One of these explosions included a loud boom that caused all the officers and some rioters/protesters in the crowd to flinch in unison,” according to an FBI affidavit issued in support of Ball’s 2023 arrest.

One officer described a hearing impairment that lasted months. Another officer described the pain in their ears as 10 out of 10. A third officer said they temporarily lost hearing, a fourth said their ears rang for three hours, and a fifth said there was a continued ringing in their ears for days.

“For many other officers that were interviewed, it was the most memorable event that day,” the FBI said in an affidavit. Some officers who were defending the tunnel at the time of the explosion reported feeling the pressure of the blast, according to the bureau. Some thought it was a fragmentation grenade and anticipated pain or significant injury. Some thought they were going to die. Some officers suffered psychological trauma from the explosion.

The explosion allegedly set off by Daniel Ball at the Capitol. (FBI)

The explosion allegedly set off by Daniel Ball at the Capitol. (FBI)

Ball allegedly returned to the battle after the explosion, throwing a wooden furniture leg, the FBI said. Ball was allegedly aiming for an officer but struck a rioter instead. He is now charged with using the explosive device to commit a felony and with assaulting, resisting or impeding officers with a deadly or dangerous weapon.

Why he’s in jail: Ball has a criminal history and is accused of using an explosive device at the Capitol.

John Banuelos: Accused of firing a gun during the Capitol attack

John Banuelos was identified to the FBI in February 2021. The government took no action at that time as the bureau was being flooded by hundreds of thousands of tips from the public. Months later, in July 2021, Banuelos fatally stabbed a 19-year-old in a public park in Utah but was not charged after he claimed self-defense, police said. But he did tell police in Utah that he’d been at the Capitol on Jan. 6 and that he’d had a gun on him, police records show.

John Banuelos. (U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia)

John Banuelos. (U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia)

NBC News reported on Banuelos’ identity in early 2022, and the FBI spoke with him after that report, but it wasn’t until this February that footage emerged that appeared to show Banuelos firing the gun outside the Capitol on Jan. 6. Banuelos was arrested in early March, and he was ordered detained. He has not yet been arraigned but suggested in an interview with the FBI that the multiple, contemporaneous videos that appear to show him firing off the gun could have been created by artificial intelligence.

Why he’s in jail: Banuelos has an extensive criminal history, including five convictions, according to prosecutors. He also allegedly threatened Americans who identified him to the FBI and is charged with firing off a gun at the Capitol.

Tim Boughner: Allegedly bragged he ‘f—ed those cops up’

Online sleuths helped identify Tim Boughner, a Michigan man they called #BlackPufferWhiteScarf, using a prior mugshot from a 2017 arrest. He was arrested on Jan. 6 charges in December 2021 and faces three felony charges, with federal authorities alleging he assaulted officers with chemical spray.

Tim Boughner. (FBI)

Tim Boughner. (FBI)

“I grabbed a can from them and started spraying. I got it on video lol,” Boughner wrote in a post on Facebook on Jan. 6 cited by the FBI. “F—ed those cops up.”

The government moved for pretrial detention, citing his “prior probation violations and attempt to evade law enforcement in this case.” Boughner quit his job after Jan. 6, and authorities said he “did not have a stable living arrangement” and had “an extensive and varied criminal history and contacts with law enforcement beginning at the age of 17.”

In November 2023, U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan found reasonable cause that Boughner was “suffering from a mental disease or defect rendering him incompetent” and ordered him to undergo psychiatric evaluation. This February, Chutkan found Boughner incompetent and a recent joint status update indicated that he suffered from “delusional thoughts” but “expressed unwillingness to voluntarily take medication.”

Why he’s in jail: On top of his extensive criminal history and risk of flight, a judge ruled that he needs psychiatric treatment before he’s competent to stand trial.

Dominic Box: Arrested on DUI charge while out on pretrial release in his Jan. 6 case

Dominic Box (FBI)

Dominic Box (FBI)

Box, who was interviewed in the HBO documentary “Four Hours at the Capitol,” was arrested in Georgia in December 2022 and faces felony charges of obstruction of an official proceeding and civil disorder.

While out on release pretrial, he was arrested in Florida on a DUI charge, which led to his lawyer in the Jan. 6 case not being able to reach him, according to court documents. Box had been expected to enter a plea to a felony charge in December 2023 but indicated he was not ready to enter a plea after meeting with his attorney in Washington, according to court documents. He told the court he did not want to proceed with the plea deal in January because of a pending Supreme Court case that could affect his obstruction charge, but he may proceed to a stipulated trial — one where the facts themselves are uncontested — in June.

He has claimed in a recent fundraising campaign that he is a journalist and claimed he was a “citizen journalist” in an interview with the Savannah Morning News, which noted that Box had worked as a salesman at a Nissan dealership but was fired after Jan. 6.

Why he’s in jail: Box was arrested on a DUI charge while he was on pretrial release on his Jan. 6 charges.

Joseph Daniel Hutchinson III, Jonathan Pollock, and Olivia Pollock: Went on the run in Florida

Jonathan Daniel Pollock, Joseph Daniel Hutchinson III and Olivia Michele Pollock. (FBI)

Jonathan Daniel Pollock, Joseph Daniel Hutchinson III and Olivia Michele Pollock. (FBI)

Earlier this year, on the third anniversary of the Jan. 6 attack, FBI special agents descended on a ranch in Florida. They took three fugitives into custody: Joseph Daniel Hutchinson III, Jonathan Pollock and Olivia Pollock. The three were originally arrested in 2021, charged alongside Joshua Doolin and Michael Perkins, who were found guilty on several Jan. 6-related charges in 2023.

Jonathan Pollock had been a fugitive for 2.5 years, since his initial indictment in the summer of 2021. Olivia Pollock and Hutchinson had been fugitives since the summer of 2023, when they failed to show up to their trial.

All three defendants wore tactical gear on Jan. 6 and are charged with assaulting, resisting or impeding certain officers as well as theft of government property. Jonathan Pollock is accused of the worst violence of the bunch, with the government saying he grabbed an officer by the waist and pulled the officer down a set of stairs, punched another officer in the face and stole another officer’s police shield.

Hutchinson, authorities said, charged the police line and began throwing punches, while Olivia Pollock attempted to strip an officer of their baton and elbowed the officer in the chest.

Why they’re in jail: They were fugitives before their capture and have been ordered detained until trial.

Edward Kelley: Charged with plotting to murder FBI employees after his release in Jan. 6 case

Anti-abortion activist Edward Kelley of Tennessee was initially arrested in May 2022 after the FBI identified him as the fourth rioter to breach the Capitol. In addition to assaulting a law enforcement officer outside the Capitol, the government alleges Kelley used a piece of wood to break a window, jumped through the window and then forced open a fire door, allowing the first mass of rioters to flood inside the building and chase Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman up the stairs, toward the Senate chamber.

Edward Kelly (FBI)

Edward Kelly (FBI)

Months after his initial release, in December 2022, Kelley was arrested again and charged in a plot to murder FBI employees involved in investigating him about Jan. 6. In November 2023, Kelley’s friend and co-defendant Austin Carter, a member of the Army Reserves, admitted that he and Kelley had conspired to “murder employees of the Federal Bureau of Investigation,” admitting that he received a list of FBI employees from Kelley and that the two had “discussed plans to attack the FBI Field Office in Knoxville, Tennessee.”

In a recent joint filing, prosecutors and Kelley’s attorneys said they were engaged in “good faith efforts” to reach a plea deal in both of Kelley’s criminal cases. If a deal is not reached by early April, Kelley’s trial in the alleged murder plot is set to begin in Knoxville on May 7, but the case may be delayed after a recent joint filing indicated the parties were at “an impasse.”

Why he’s in jail: He was initially released on his Jan. 6 charges but then allegedly plotted to murder the FBI employees who were investigating him.

Jacob Lang: Unapologetic rioter charged with repeatedly assaulting law enforcement

Jake Lang. (FBI)

Jake Lang. (FBI)

Jacob Lang — who can be seen on video hitting law enforcement officers with a baseball bat and riot shield — faces multiple charges of assaulting law enforcement officers, as well as felony charges of civil disorder and obstruction of an official proceeding. He was arrested in January 2021.

“I was the leader of Liberty today,” Lang wrote on Facebook after the riot, wrongly tagging himself at the White House. “Arrest me. You are on the wrong side of history.”

He said the day after the attack that it was “war” at the Capitol, not a mere protest.

Lang, the government notes, hosts a weekly podcast for a conservative conspiracy website from behind bars and paints himself as a “political prisoner.” Lang has cycled through lawyers and recently hired Anthony Frank Sabatini, a Republican and former Florida state representative who is running for Congress.

“I don’t play the watered-down version of Jan. 6, the ‘there was mistakes made that day.’ No, no, I think that was well within our rights and constitutional duty to overthrow the chains of tyranny,” he said in one podcast.

Trump supporters clash with police and security forces as people try to storm the U.S. Capitol. (Brent Stirton / Getty Images file)

Trump supporters clash with police and security forces as people try to storm the U.S. Capitol. (Brent Stirton / Getty Images file)

Lang was being held in the jail in Washington but was transferred to a facility in Brooklyn, New York. “Lang not only remains willing to engage in additional acts of violence whenever he deems such violence necessary, but continues to believe that such violence is justified,” prosecutors recently wrote.

“For Lang, little has changed since January 6, 2021 or the days that followed when according to Lang, the next step was ‘guns’ and he tried to form and armed militia,” they wrote.

U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols said last year that the argument for Lang’s continued detention was “strong,” noting that Lang was at the forefront of the mob and that his “overt expressions of willingness to use violence in the future, along with the violent nature of Lang’s offenses on January 6th, convinced this Court that Lang could not be released with adequate assurances of community safety.”

Why he’s in jail: A judge cited overwhelming evidence that he repeatedly assaulted officers and a continued willingness to engage in violence.

Christopher Maurer: Charged with swinging a pipe at officers

Christopher Maurer was featured as No. 150 on the FBI’s Capitol Violence website. The government says that Maurer was part of the lower west tunnel assault and tried to pull a police shield and strike officers who were helping another rioter who was experiencing a medical emergency. Maurer exited the tunnel but later returned swinging a long metal pipe at officers, according to the FBI. He is charged with assaulting, resisting or impeding certain officers with a deadly and dangerous weapon, among other charges.

Christopher Maurer. (FBI)

Christopher Maurer. (FBI)

“F— YOU A–HOLES!” Maurer allegedly yelled after the attack, holding up both of his middle fingers.

Law enforcement observed Maurer near Falmouth, Maine, with a 1999 gold Ford Expedition that he appeared to be living out of in early 2023, shortly before his arrest.

Why he’s in jail: Maurer, who was living in a van, conceded to detention in March 2023.

Jeffrey McKellop: Former Special Forces soldier accused of attacking police

Jeffrey McKellop, a retired U.S. Army Special Forces soldier and military contractor, is accused of repeatedly attacking law enforcement officers, including with a flagpole. He was arrested in March 2021, and the government argued that the gas mask-wearing rioter “weaponized his extensive military training and experience” during the Capitol attack. The government provided a photo that, it says, shows the officer McKellop “stabbed in the face” with the flagpole.

Jeff McKellop. (FBI)

Jeff McKellop. (FBI)

McKellop, Magistrate Judge Zia Faruqui wrote in 2021, “represents a threat to the safety of the community as video footage shows him assaulting police offers, including with weapons.”

McKellop was later ordered committed for a competency evaluation. McKellop has cycled through eight attorneys over the course of his detention, which has caused delays in the proceedings. On March 29, his current attorneys wrote in a motion that McKellop had ordered them to withdraw and asked the court to appoint new counsel. A jury trial is set for May 13 before Judge Carl J. Nichols.

Why he’s in jail: Was ordered held by a judge to undergo competency evaluations before trial.

Christina Legros: Found by a judge to lack the mental capacity to care for herself

Christina Legros was arrested in January 2023 alongside her boyfriend, Isaac Thomas, who prosecutors said was one of the first individuals to enter the restricted grounds of the U.S. Capitol. A mental health clinician was present during the initial interview Legros and Thomas had with the FBI in January 2021. Legros and Thomas were both indicted together, but Legros only faces misdemeanor charges, while Thomas faces multiple felony counts for allegedly assaulting officers.

Christina Legros (Amy Harris / Shutterstock)

Christina Legros (Amy Harris / Shutterstock)

“I will smack you upside your head with this pole!” Thomas allegedly yelled on a video recorded by Legros, before Thomas assaulted officers, according to DOJ. In addition to allegedly repeatedly assaulting officers with the flagpole before an officer was able to grab it away from him, authorities say video shows Thomas throwing a Gatorade bottle at an officer.

Legros was hospitalized shortly after her initial arrest. Earlier this year, U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly found that Legros lacked the “mental capacity to care for herself.” In March, the judge ordered the Bureau of Prisons “to maintain custody of Defendant Legros until her competency hearing on April 9, 2024.” Legros has not yet been arraigned so she has not entered a plea; Judge Kollar-Kotelly has said she won’t arraign Legros “until the parties have a clearer picture as to her mental competency.”

Why she’s in custody: A judge found that Legros lacked the mental capacity to care for herself, and she has a pending competency hearing.

Edward Richmond Jr.: Previously killed an Iraqi civilian, yet had an AR-15 in his home

Edward Richmond Jr., known to online sleuths as “Buff Lightyear” due to the outfit he wore — “black helmet, goggles, shoulder pads, an orange two-way radio, and a Louisiana State Flag patch,” per the government — during the Capitol attack, faces a host of charges for his actions that day.

Edward Richmond Jr. (FBI)

Edward Richmond Jr. (FBI)

The 40-year-old was arrested in January in Louisiana, and a federal magistrate judge initially ordered him released. The government appealed to a federal judge in Washington, arguing that Richmond showed up to the Capitol “dressed in full tactical gear, carrying a baton” on Jan. 6 and “stayed at the front of the mob fighting against police for almost two hours,” carrying a police riot shield, helping take furniture out of broken windows and carrying a large wooden plank to use against officers. The government noted Richmond was previously “convicted of manslaughter after shooting a handcuffed Iraqi cow herder in the head with his rifle” and was sentenced to three years of confinement and dishonorably discharged from the military.

Richmond was also banned from owning weapons due to his conviction, but the FBI said it found “an AR-15 rifle in Richmond’s home — complete with three fully loaded magazines, approximately 73 rounds of ammunition.” Prosecutors noted that Richmond “served multiple years in jail for shooting a man and was undoubtedly aware that any future possession of firearms could send him back to jail.” They also noted that Richmond changed his telephone number shortly after the FBI posted photos of him on their website in an attempt to identify him. Chief U.S. Judge James Boasberg ordered Richmond held, in part, evidence of his unlawful possession of that weapon. Richmond has not yet been arraigned so has not entered a plea; but in arguing for pretrial release, his attorney noted that he contacted a lawyer when he learned the FBI was looking for him back in 2022.

Why he’s in jail: He was banned from owning weapons after being convicted of killing a handcuffed Iraqi civilian, but authorities say an AR-15 was found in his home.

Taylor Taranto: Showed up at Obama’s house with guns and ammo after Trump posted the address

Taylor Taranto. (Metropolitan Police Department)

Taylor Taranto. (Metropolitan Police Department)

Online sleuths first identified Taylor Taranto to the FBI in August 2021 but he wasn’t arrested until last year.

Taranto, the “sedition hunters” said, was the Jan. 6 participant who wore a “Make Space Great Again” hat and carried a cane with a sharpened metal tip that day. That rioter was involved in a brawl between pro-Trump rioters and law enforcement officers trying to force them out of the Capitol, including Jeffrey Smith, a Metropolitan Police Department officer who died by suicide just days after the Capitol attack. Smith’s death was found, by DOJ, to have occurred as a direct result of the injuries he sustained that day, including during that brawl and a separate incident outside the Capitol after nightfall, when Smith was struck by a metal rod. Erin Smith, the late officer’s widow, filed a civil lawsuit against Taranto as well as D.C. chiropractor David Walls-Kaufman, who was arrested in June 2022. Taranto and Walls-Kaufman deny playing any role in the Smith’s death.

When Walls-Kaufman was sentenced in June 2023, ultimately receiving 60 days of incarceration after admitting he “scuffled” with officers, Taranto showed up to the sentencing hearing. Taranto had been living out of his van and often showed up to the city jail, where supporters of Jan. 6 defendants hold regular, livestreamed vigils. Days after Walls-Kaufman’s sentencing, Taranto showed up outside the home of former President Barack Obama in the nation’s capital after Trump posted a screenshot that included the address on his social media website. (Trump has not commented publicly on the case.) Federal authorities arrested Taranto and said he illegally had weapons and more than 400 rounds of ammunition in his van.

He is now facing charges related to Jan. 6 as well as for the illegal weapons he is accused of having near Obama’s home. Taranto has not yet entered a plea; but during his detention proceedings, his attorneys argued that his mental health needs would be better addressed at home with his family.

Why he’s in jail: A judge ordered Taranto held after he showed up outside Obama’s home with weapons in his van.

Gregory Yetman: National guardsman charged with attacking officers who fled from the FBI

Gregory Yetman. (FBI)

Gregory Yetman. (FBI)

Gregory Yetman, a former New Jersey National Guard police sergeant, was arrested after a 48-hour FBI manhunt in New Jersey in November 2023. Online sleuths had referred to Yetman as #GreenHeavySprayer, because he was seen on video cited by the FBI using a large chemical sprayer to assault a line of police officers. Yetman faces several charges, including felony charges of assaulting officers and obstruction of law enforcement during civil disorder, as well as misdemeanors. Yetman, according to authorities, fled into a wooded area when the FBI showed up at his home and later turned himself into a police station dirty and unkempt.

A federal magistrate judge found that Yetman “poses a danger to the community and presents a risk of flight.” Yetman was arraigned in Washington in February, pleading not guilty to a six-count indictment. Yetman is currently scheduled to take a plea deal on April 25.

FBI searches and converges on the home of suspect Gregory Yetman. (Kyle Mazza / SOPA Images / Sipa USA via AP)

FBI searches and converges on the home of suspect Gregory Yetman. (Kyle Mazza / SOPA Images / Sipa USA via AP)

Why he’s in jail: He was ordered held after he fled the FBI, is accused of assaulting law enforcement with chemical spray and is set to take a plea deal.

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com

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