A man who organized a “MAGA caravan” to bring pro-Trump protesters to Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6 was arrested for repeatedly punching police officers and pushing against their shields.
Ohio resident Kenneth Joseph Owen Thomas, 38, was arrested in Alabama on Wednesday and charged with several offenses, including assaulting and resisting officers, obstructing law enforcement and engaging in physical violence on Capitol grounds, the Justice Department announced.
Thomas was first identified by online open source investigators in the weeks after the Capitol attack, and a HuffPost reporter learned his identity nearly three months ago when a tipster described Thomas as “low-hanging fruit” because he videotaped himself throughout the entire event and openly posted about his involvement on social media.
The affidavit cites the work of a member of the “Sedition Hunters” network that sprung up to identify violent insurrectionists after Jan. 6, as well as a tip from a neighbor of Thomas who recognized him from an image released by the FBI.
Body-camera footage from Metropolitan Police at the Capitol on Jan. 6 showed Thomas, wearing a “Veteran for Trump” camouflage baseball cap, pushing officers’ shields, punching and hitting cops, and telling the crowd of rioters to “hold the line,” according to the FBI affidavit.
The original video no longer appears to be online, but HuffPost reviewed a copy of it after Thomas’ arrest. “Stand down! Stand down!” he yells at the cops. He tells another officer to “honor your oath” and to support the Constitution.
“We want our country back!” Thomas yelled. “This is our house, we’re not backing down!” He then calls for peace and freedom before brawling with the cops protecting the Capitol.
“Hold the line! Hold the line!” he screams as he films himself pushing up against the police line.
Law enforcement officers at the Capitol identified Thomas as “one of the first to come in and start hitting [and] pushing officers on the line,” the FBI special agent wrote.
Thomas had helped organize a caravan of dozens of cars that drove to Washington the night before the riot. According to a tweet from one participant, Thomas spoke at a stop in Richmond, Virginia, and shared instructions about where they would gather the following morning.
The day after the attack — in a Facebook post not included in the FBI affidavit but reviewed by HuffPost — Thomas wrote that he had a “blast” but was sorry that it “devolved the way it did.”
Like many other Trump supporters who committed violence at the Capitol on Jan. 6, he blamed left-wingers hiding in the crowd. “Agitators infiltrated & hijacked the protest & caused problems. We called them out, took weapons away from them, & documented their actions.” He claimed the Capitol police “used violence on unarmed peaceful protesters.”
In another Facebook post, Thomas wrote, “The bad actors that caused the mayhem & destruction are seditious traitors to our nation. ANTIFA IS A DOMESTIC TERRORIST ORGANIZATION.”
Federal authorities have arrested and charged more than 400 people in connection with the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, in which hundreds of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol in an attempt to stop the certification of the 2020 presidential election, which President Joe Biden won.