An anti-abortion extremist from Ohio who herded members of a pro-Trump mob near the entrance of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 was arrested by the FBI on Thursday for allegedly assaulting law enforcement in the violent frenzy to breach the building.
HuffPost first reported that 62-year-old David Mehaffie of Dayton, Ohio, had been given the nickname “#TunnelCommander” by online Capitol riot sleuthers for appearing to shepherd the violent mob as they tried to breach the Capitol’s lower western terrace entrance in one of the most violent episodes that day, which included attacks on law enforcement.
U.S. Magistrate Judge for the District of Columbia Robin Meriweather signed a warrant for Mehaffie’s arrest on Aug. 4. Mehaffie and another previously uncharged defendant, Steven Cappuccio, were indicted by a grand jury in an existing case on a slew of charges that involved violent attacks on police during the riot.
Mehaffie faces five counts and Cappuccio was slapped with nine counts in connection with assaulting law enforcement and obstructing an official proceeding as Congress met to certify the Electoral College vote on Jan. 6.
In video footage captured from the Capitol attack, Mehaffie can be seen directing members of the mob who had swarmed police barricades and were violently clamoring to force their way into the building, overwhelming police officers.
The officers stationed in that area during the riot included D.C. Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone, who was ultimately dragged down the Capitol steps, causing him to suffer a mild heart attack and a concussion. He previously described his encounter with the mob at the West Terrace to the Washington Post as a “medieval battle scene.”
During congressional testimony last month, Fanone relayed details of the life-threatening scene that has repeatedly been downplayed by GOP lawmakers. He said that he feared “being stripped of and killed” with his own firearm as the mob beat and tasered him.
In addition to his role in the insurrection, Mehaffie has been involved in anti-abortion advocacy and was previously named in a two-decades old federal lawsuit that alleged in July 1997 Mehaffie was among a group that illegally blocked entrances to abortion clinics in three Ohio cities.
The 1998 lawsuit resulted in a mistrial and Mehaffie heralded it as a victory in his fight against abortion in comments to the Associated Press at the time.
“God has given a victory over a federal government that has wholeheartedly endorsed, protected and even propagated infanticide,” he was quoted saying.
Amid Mehaffie’s arrest Thursday, new charges were also revealed against Federico Klein, the former State Department aide appointed by then-President Trump. Klein was also allegedly part of a violent throng at a tunnel near the lower western terrace entrance, and has been accused of being a part of the “first wave” of the mob that stormed the Capitol at that location and with using a riot shield against at least two officers.
Klein was previously charged in March with eight counts that included obstructing an official proceeding, obstructing law enforcement, and assaulting an officer with a dangerous weapon. The new indictment revealed four additional counts against Klein in connection with the assault.