The self-described white nationalist who stormed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office and posed for gleeful photos during Wednesday’s insurrection was one of several people arrested Friday, along with a 70-year-old man and a West Virginia state delegate.
Richard Barnett, a 60-year-old from Arkansas, has been charged with entering and remaining on restricted grounds, violent entry, and theft of public property, according to the Department of Justice.
Barnett, who goes by “Bigo,” posed for a now-infamous photo in Pelosi’s office as a MAGA mob attacked the Capitol building while Congress met to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s victory. The mid-afternoon siege forced lawmakers to evacuate as rioters flooded the hallways, leaving a wake of destruction.
“I left a quarter on her desk,” Barnett told The New York Times on Wednesday, before showing off a personalized envelope he stole from Pelosi’s office.
Prosecutors, however, say Barnett later insisted he didn’t steal the envelope he was photographed holding.
“I did not steal it. I bled on it because they were macing me and I couldn’t fucking see so I figured I am in her office. I got blood on her office. I put a quarter on her desk even though she ain’t fucking worth it,” Barnett told a news outlet, according to court documents. “And I left her a note on her desk that says ‘Nancy, Bigo was here, you bitch.’”
Barnett previously described himself as a white nationalist who was prepared for a violent death.
On one Facebook account, named “George Reincarnated Patton” after the World War II general, Barnett wrote that he “came into this world kicking and screaming, covered in someone else’s blood” and was “not afraid to go out the same way.” The post included a picture of him wearing a Blue Lives Matter shirt and toting a rifle, according to The Washington Post.
“I am white. There is no denying that. I am a nationalist. I put my nation first. So that makes me a white nationalist,” he wrote in a separate post.
Barnett turned himself in at the Benton County Sheriff’s Office on Friday morning and was in FBI custody.
So far, prosecutors have filed federal charges in over a dozen criminal cases related to Wednesday’s riot. Another 40 cases have been filed in Washington, D.C. Superior Court, including charges for unlawful entry, curfew violations, and firearms crimes.
The Justice Department said on Friday said there was no evidence of antifa playing a role in the mayhem, despite lawmakers like Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and right-wing media figures breathlessly claiming otherwise.
Michael Sherwin, acting U.S. attorney for D.C, said on Friday that electronic materials and documents were stolen from congressional offices during the riot that may have national security implications.
One man, identified as 70-year-old Lonnie Coffman from Alabama, came to the riot prepared for battle, armed with a semi-automatic rifle and almost a dozen Molotov cocktails “ready to go,” federal prosecutors said.
Police initially searched a red pickup truck near the U.S. Capitol after a gun was left on the seat. They found firearms, 11 Molotov cocktails filled with gasoline, and homemade napalm, according to an affidavit.
After the rally, Coffman, from Falkville, flagged down cops for help getting to his car and identified himself as its owner. Officers found another two guns on him—one in each pocket.
When questioned about possible explosives in his car, Coffman “stated that the mason jars contained ‘melted Styrofoam and gasoline’”—an explosive mixture that can stick to objects upon detonation, the affidavit says.
He was arrested for having an unregistered firearm and ammunition. Records indicate Coffman worked at a file manufacturing plant that closed in 2011.
Coffman and his wife, Mae Coffman, divorced in 2019. “I cannot give you nothing because I don’t know nothing,” she told The Daily Beast on Friday. “We’re divorced. I don’t keep up with him.”
Federal prosecutors also identified other MAGA supporters who have been charged in connection with the storming of the Capitol, including West Virginia state delegate Derrick Evans, who live-streamed the riot.
The Republican freshman lawmaker posted a since-deleted video of himself inside the Capitol Rotunda on Wednesday. Wearing a helmet, he can be heard saying, “We’re in, baby!” before yelling at others in the mob not to vandalize the building. Several of Evans’ Democratic colleagues have urged him to resign as Republican speaker of the West Virginia House.
In a statement to WVNS, Evans’ lawyer maintained his client wouldn’t be stepping down because he “did nothing wrong.” The attorney, John Bryan, claimed Evans works as an “independent journalist” and activist and was not involved in the organization of the event.
“He was exercising his First Amendment rights to peacefully protest and film a historic and dynamic event,” Bryan said in a three-page statement to WVNS. “He engaged in no violence, no rioting, destruction of property and no illegal behavior.”
D.C. Police reported that another man, Joshua Pruitt, was arrested for violating Mayor Muriel Bowser’s curfew—but, when he was being processed, they identified him as one of the Capitol trespassers based on a photo in the Washington Post. The affidavit says that Pruitt, now facing federal charges of illegally entering a restricted building, admitted having been inside the Capitol but claimed he had only transgressed to try to “de-escalate others.”
Steven D’Antuono, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Washington field office, said no resources were being spared. “Just because you’ve left the D.C. region, you can still expect a knock on the door if we find out you were part of the criminal activity at the Capitol,” he said.
The FBI also announced a $50,000 reward for information on the suspect who planted two working pipe bombs near the Republican and Democratic National Committee buildings.