He’s a veteran of SEAL Team 4, a motivational speaker, and a fan of the Proud Boys. And he’s admitting to marching on the Capitol on Jan. 6. No wonder the FBI has questioned him.
Shannon Rusch, a SEAL veteran and author of “A Warrior’s Mind,” was identified and tracked by John Scott-Railton, a senior researcher at the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab and Deep State Dogs, a research collective dedicated to identifying those present at the Capitol on Jan. 6. After The Daily Beast shared imagery of Rusch found by Scott-Railton and the research group, Rusch confirmed that he had been present on Capitol grounds on Jan. 6.
Scott-Railton says he and researchers from Deep State Dogs combed through photographs and videos of the riot posted to social media and were able to identify Rusch marching to the Capitol alongside notable Proud Boys Joe “Rambo” Biggs and Ethan Nordean, and making their way past police barricades at the Capitol, further onto the grounds and underneath bleachers set up for President Joe Biden’s inauguration on the Capitol grounds. The identification of Rusch would add to the growing list of military veterans who descended on the Capitol to try and stop the certification of Biden’s Electoral College victory.
In a brief phone interview and an email exchange, Rusch said he marched on the Capitol on Jan. 6 “to exercise my 1st amendment rights” but that he “left the Capitol grounds at 1:45 and did not return to the Capitol grounds because it was in lock down.” Rusch said he did not go inside the building itself and that he had a speaking engagement online that verified his timeline of events.
Rusch also confirmed that federal law enforcement had been in contact with him about Jan. 6 and that he “spoke with the FBI and my attorney relayed the details of the above to them, verifying the timeline and events.”
There’s no imagery showing Rusch himself inside the building, and he has not been charged with a crime.
Rusch’s journey to Washington, D.C.—at President Trump’s rally on the National Mall and ultimately up to the scaffolding at the West face of the Capitol—is visible in a trail of posts he left on social media as well as footage taken at the Capitol on Jan. 6 and posted online.
Before the rally, Rusch posted videos to Facebook urging followers to call their members of Congress to demand they “object and reject the electoral votes in the five state that have proven massive, coordinated voter fraud and ultimately treason” and said it was vital that "if you can make it to DC on the 6th, do so.”
The day before the riot, Rusch tweeted a picture of himself standing on the National Mall with the Capitol in the background, and called it a historic event and “The calm before the strom.... [sic].”
A video posted to Rusch’s Facebook account around 10:45 a.m. on Jan. 6 shows him walking westbound on Constitution Avenue near 14th Street about an hour before Trump’s speech at a rally on the mall. “There is no way in hell or any universe that Joe Biden won this election. They are actively trying to overthrow our country via the Chinese communist party and via the RINOs," Rusch said as he recorded the video.
Shortly thereafter, Rusch is visible in a march toward the Capitol led by the far-right Proud Boys in a series of video clips as well as a photo taken by Getty photographer Jon Cherry. In the imagery, Rusch is wearing a similar gray vest and black knit hat to the selfie he tweeted out the day before.
Rusch marched alongside a number of far-right militants, including militia fan Robert Gieswein and Ethan Nordean, the so-called “sergeant at arms” for Seattle’s Proud Boys chapter, as they made their way toward the Capitol in the march.
In one YouTube clip published by freelance videographer “Benjamin Reports,” Rusch is seen chanting through a megaphone while walking alongside Proud Boys organizer Joe “Rambo” Biggs. Biggs—who was subsequently charged with conspiracy, destruction of government property, and obstructing an official proceeding for his conduct inside the Capitol—is visible in later footage of the march sharing the same sticker-clad megaphone used by Rusch.
In 2019, Rusch reached out to Biggs via Twitter and introduced himself as a former member of SEAL Team 4 who would “love to connect with you off the digital grid concerning recent events.”
The two apparently made some connection as Rusch appeared on a February 2020 episode of Biggs’ podcast at Censored TV, where the two discussed “his childhood and how he channeled his inner demons and become a successful Special Operations Beast,” according to a description of the show. (After Biggs’ alleged participation in the riot, all of his episodes appear to have been removed from Censored TV, which was founded by Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes.) In an email, Rusch said Biggs wasn’t what brought him to Washington on Jan. 6 and that he is not a member of the Proud Boys.
Footage recorded by RMGNews shows Rusch moved onto the Capitol grounds, past police barricades, and stood at a second set of barriers at the base of the building’s steps as he yelled “We the people!” through a megaphone at police trying to hold the crowd back. In a clip posted by the U.K.’s ITV News, Rusch appears at the bottom of the screen at the 34-second mark shielding his face from tear gas wafting through the crowd.
Rusch is last visible in footage recorded and published by Getty Images moving with the crowd as it heads into scaffolding set up for the inauguration.
After the riot, Rusch tweeted out posts critical of police for their treatment of rioters relative to left-wing protesters—“They never shot blm antifa,” Rusch wrote next to a bloody picture of Ashli Babbitt, a rioter shot and killed by Capitol police—and retweeted a post highlighting that one alleged rioter charged by prosecutors was the son of a Democratic judge.
Rusch is a motivational speaker and the developer of what he calls “The Unstoppable Mind,” which he describes as a “twelve-week program designed to help clients unlock their potential, so they can move forward with intentional actions towards their ideal life.”
A study of Capitol rioters charged by federal prosecutors conducted by NPR found that, as of late January, one in five of those charged in connection with the riot were veterans, despite the fact that veterans account for only around 7 percent of the overall U.S. population. The overrepresentation of veterans among Capitol rioters in part prompted Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to order a “stand down” to address extremism within the ranks of the active duty armed forces.