The FBI has arrested a mother-and-son duo accused of entering House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office during the Jan. 6 attack at the U.S. Capitol after the pair were successfully identified by online sleuths.
Maryann Mooney-Rondon and Rafael Rondon were arrested on Friday, a law enforcement official told HuffPost.
The two arrestees ― whom online sleuths working under the #SeditionHunters moniker nicknamed “AirheadLady” and “AirheadBoy” because the pair emerged from the Capitol wearing stolen emergency escape hoods ― will face a host of federal charges. More details on the cases are forthcoming.
HuffPost first learned of the Rondons’ identities from online investigators back in May, after the FBI mistakenly raided the home of Marilyn Hueper, an Alaska Trump supporter who resembled Maryann Mooney-Rondon and was on the grounds of the Capitol on Jan. 6. The raid was a pretty serious blunder by the bureau, which has now made more than 600 arrests in connection with the Capitol attack.
Online investigators went to work after the botched raid to find the right identities and were very quickly able to identify the Rondons. One of the online sleuths who worked the case told HuffPost that the entire process of finding her and her son took about 30 minutes. At the time, a law enforcement official requested that HuffPost not reveal that the FBI had solid leads on the duo, so as not to jeopardize the investigation. The FBI arrested the Rondons a little less than five months later.
The Rondons, who hail from Watertown, New York, were Nos. 224 and 225 on the FBI’s list of suspects wanted in connection with the Jan. 6 attack. Online investigators used facial recognition for the initial lead on Maryann Mooney-Rondon. With some additional investigating on social media, they found photos of the woman and her son together on Facebook, including a photo featuring the mother and her then young son on a horse-drawn carriage in New York City a decade ago, in September 2011.
Footage and videos show that Mooney-Rondon and Rondon made their way throughout the Capitol building . They were spotted in the rotunda, in the gallery of the Senate and in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office. Capitol defendants who made their way into Pelosi’s office and onto the Senate floor have faced felony charges: Paul Hodgkins ― the first Capitol defendant sentenced in a felony case ― recently reported to federal prison to serve out his eight-month sentence.
Staffers in Pelosi’s office were forced into hiding when the violent mob stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, huddling for hours behind a locked door as the rioters ransacked her office. Members of the mob shattered an antique mirror, stole computers and grabbed documents.
Video from inside Pelosi’s office shows Mooney-Rondon disconnecting a laptop from attached cables before someone else grabbed the computer. On Jan. 6, Mooney-Rondon was wearing a metallic ring on her thumb, and photos on Facebook show her wearing a thumb ring.
Mooney-Rondon appears to have been to D.C. before: She posted photos of her daughter at the 2018 March for Life, where then-President Donald Trump spoke. (The 2018 event marked the first time a sitting president addressed a March for Life crowd via live video feed; the 2020 event was the first time a sitting president spoke at the event in person.)
Mooney-Rondon liked a number of right-wing Facebook pages and spelled out her support for Trump in a post in 2016. “I am registered as an Independent but voted for Trump. For so many reasons, he was the better choice for me. Clinton has had 30 years in politics and doesn’t have a record that I respect,” she wrote in reply to a Facebook friend on Election Day 2016.
The FBI has made more than 600 arrests in connection with the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, and online sleuths are awaiting the arrest of dozens of suspects they have identified who haven’t yet been arrested. There are hundreds more arrests in the pipeline.