Rachel Marie Powell of Sandy Lake, Pennsylvania, “is in custody,” Margaret Philbin, a spokesperson for the Pittsburgh U.S. Attorney’s Office, told The Daily Beast.
Powell, 40, was apprehended Thursday night in New Castle, according to Philbin. She could not immediately be reached for comment.
The cheese and yogurt purveyor—dubbed “the bullhorn lady” after video emerged of Powell appearing to shout orders through a bullhorn during the Jan. 6 sacking of the Capitol—was apparently not home when the FBI raided her house Thursday afternoon. Neighbors told local news reporters that Powell and her family had lived there for several years but mostly kept to themselves.
According to a complaint filed Friday in federal court, Powell is facing charges of obstruction, depredation of government property, entering a restricted building with a dangerous weapon, and violent entry/disorderly conduct.
The filing says Powell used a pipe to smash a window at the Capitol, causing more than $1,000 in damages. An anonymous tipster first outed Powell to the FBI, it explains, and gave agents the link to Powell’s Facebook profile. There, agents were able to match photos of Powell wearing a distinctive set of earmuffs with those she was seen wearing at the Capitol.
At a preliminary hearing held Friday afternoon via Zoom, Powell dialed in from jail, dressed in a yellow detainee uniform. Her lawyer, Michael Engle, told Judge Patricia Dodge that he hadn’t yet been able to contact Powell at the detention center where she will remain locked up pending her next court appearance on Feb. 9. Addressing Powell directly, Engle said he would try to speak with her this weekend but promised to be in touch no later than Monday.
Powell, who did not speak and remained expressionless during the hearing, faces decades behind bars, as well as hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines, if convicted on all counts.
After being seen on video during the Jan. 6 riot in a pink hat and sunglasses, Powell gained her signature moniker, though she was also known as “Pink Hat Lady.”
“People should probably coordinate together if you’re going to take this building,” Powell shouted through a shattered window to a group of insurrectionists inside the Capitol. “We got another window to break to make in-and-out easy.”
Powell, who became the subject of her own FBI “Wanted” poster, agreed to an interview with Ronan Farrow of The New Yorker before she was charged.
Originally from Anaheim, California, Powell told Farrow that she acted spontaneously on Jan. 6, and was “not part of a plot.”
“I have no military background.... I’m a mom with eight kids,” she said. “That’s it. I work. And I garden. And raise chickens. And sell cheese at a farmers’ market.... Listen, if somebody doesn’t help and direct people, then do more people die? That’s all I’m going to say about that. I can’t say anymore. I need to talk to an attorney.”
Powell apparently became radicalized during the past year or so: When she wasn’t manning a table at local farmers’ markets, Powell used Facebook to post about topics such as yoga and organic food. However, she recently began expressing increasingly extreme political views that included various conspiracy theories about COVID-19 and unfounded doubts about the validity of the 2020 presidential election.
“It isn’t to [sic] late to wake up, say no, and restore freedoms,” she wrote on Facebook last May.
Powell was reportedly influenced by Infowars founder Alex Jones, who has claimed the Sandy Hook school shooting was a hoax, and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who has made countless false claims while serving as Donald Trump’s personal attorney.
Deborah Lemons, Powell’s mother, told Farrow that Powell was held at gunpoint during a carjacking when she was a child. She said it “amazed” her that her daughter—with whom Lemons has had a strained relationship for the past several years—would participate in the Capitol riot having been on the wrong end of violence in the past.
“She well knows what it’s like to wonder if she’s gonna lose her life,” said Lemons.
Two other alleged insurrectionists were arrested Thursday, after being identified by investigators as having participated in the Jan. 6 riot.
Kyle Fitzsimons of Lebanon, Maine was picked up for his alleged role in the siege, according to the FBI’s Boston Division. Fitzsimons—who was seen wearing rubber boots and a fur pelt around his neck—was at the front of a pack of rioters and was seen “grabbing at officers” trying to hold back the crowd, says a criminal complaint charging the 37-year-old with assault, disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, civil disorder, and entering or remaining in a restricted building.
“After being struck by officers’ batons, Fitzsimons got up and moved towards the middle of the archway; he lowered his shoulder and charged at the line of officers,” the filing says.
In a subsequent interview with The Rochester Voice, Fitzsimons claimed he had been forced up to the front of the crowd, and said his wounds from the clubbing required six stitches. He told the paper that he worked as a butcher, and was wearing his butcher jacket during the Capitol siege. The Capitol siege was a “peaceful protest gone wrong,” Fitzsimons said during a Lebanon, Maine, town meeting on Jan. 7, suggesting falsely that the violence was a “set-up” to cast blame on Trump supporters.
A public defender listed as representing Fitzsimons did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Brian McCreary of North Adams, Massachusetts, was also arrested Thursday in connection with the Capitol riot. He is now facing federal disorderly conduct and trespassing charges, and it was not clear if he had an attorney.
The FBI interviewed four co-workers—McCreary works as a Domino’s delivery driver—according to a statement of facts in the case.
“Additionally, multiple co-workers of McCreary stated that he has expressed political beliefs on multiple occasions while at work, to include the belief that there was widespread voter fraud in the 2020 Presidential Election,” it says. “After returning home from the U.S. Capitol McCreary told a co-worker that he ‘raided’ the Capitol and sent this co-worker multiple videos depicting rioters inside the Capitol attempting to breach a door, confronting police officers, and towards the end of one video, a gunshot can be heard.”
In a follow-up interview with the FBI, McCreary told agents he “directed people inside the building not to harm police officers or commit any acts of violence. McCreary further stated that he understood going into the building ‘might not have been legal’ but ‘he made a personal choice at that point.’”