Feds send a message as they make more arrests for Capitol riot: 'FBI agents are coming to find you'
Posted January 14, 2021 10:48 p.m. EST
CNN — About 10 new charges announced by the Justice Department on Thursday rammed home the message from law enforcement that it will find the participants in the siege of the Capitol that killed five people, including a Capitol Police officer.
The new charges on Thursday rounded up two people who allegedly hurt police officers and a man who shocked many across the country by carrying a Confederate flag inside the Capitol, where he was photographed extensively.
CNN has counted at least 44 federal criminal defendants related to the January 6 insurrection. FBI Director Chris Wray said on Thursday that more than 200 people have been identified as suspects, and he sent a message to those still at large.
"We know who you are if you're out there, and FBI agents are coming to find you," he said during an inauguration security briefing at Federal Emergency Management Agency headquarters in Washington.
New arrests of rebels
Kevin Seefried told the FBI he had taken the Confederate flag into the Capitol last week after he and his son, Hunter Seefried, came to the nation's capital on January 6 "to hear President Trump speak." They marched to the Capitol following a person with a bullhorn, they told the FBI, according to the court record.
The two Seefrieds were charged on Thursday with entering restricted grounds and violent entry or disorderly conduct inside the Capitol, according to a criminal complaint in the DC District Court. Hunter Seefried is also accused of punching through a glass window in the Capitol, according to court records.
Kevin Seefried was one of the more highly sought-after people depicted in the riot as the FBI asked the public for tips last week.
The images of him carrying the Confederate battle flag in the Capitol merited its own "seeking information" flier as the FBI sought to identify him; many other viral photos from January 6 haven't been singled out in such a prominent way.
Seefried's alleged breach was the first time the Confederate battle flag, which persists as a symbol of racism and White supremacy in modern America, had been inside the US Capitol. During the Civil War, Confederate soldiers failed to penetrate Washington.
Violence against police
Two men were separately charged for incidents of violence against police during the Capitol siege, marking the first notable federal charges for alleged crimes against law enforcement.
Robert Sanford was arrested on Thursday in Pennsylvania and accused of throwing a fire extinguisher that hit three police officers in the head while they were in part of the crowd on a Capitol terrace. Sanford now faces four federal criminal charges related to the riot, including assaulting, resisting or impeding officers on duty.
Court documents and images of the scene led prosecutors to allege that Sanford had hurled a red object, which appeared to be a fire extinguisher, toward police, striking one who was wearing a helmet. The fire extinguisher then ricocheted, hitting two other officers, one of whom was not wearing a helmet.
Another man -- Peter Francis Stager of Arkansas -- faces a criminal charge related to allegedly beating a uniformed officer. He allegedly used a flagpole that had an American flag on it to hit the officer as he lay on the ground surrounded by the mob, according to court records in DC District Court.
A video also showed Stager saying "death is the remedy" for people in the Capitol, prosecutors said.
There are no known arrests related to the death of Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick at this time.
Man accused of threatening Pelosi will stay in jail
A judge decided to keep Cleveland Meredith Jr. -- who is accused of bringing a trailer of ammunition to Washington and texting about shooting House Speaker Nancy Pelosi -- in jail as he awaits trial. In doing so, the judge made one of the first major protective decisions among the serious cases related to the Capitol violence last week.
"If I had a more concerning threats case come before me, I don't remember it," Magistrate Judge Michael Harvey of the DC District Court said on Thursday during an hourlong hearing on whether Meredith should stay detained. On Wednesday, the judge had questioned whether the Justice Department had done enough to address a need to keep Meredith in jail, since he is now detained on two relatively minor charges.
Meredith is alleged to have driven from Colorado to Washington a day before Trump's rally, with more than 2,500 rounds of ammunition and an assault rifle. He is said to have texted acquaintances that he wanted to shoot or run over Pelosi and shoot DC Mayor Muriel Bowser, according to court records. He also discussed "war time" and days of bloodshed after Trump's rally, law enforcement has said. He currently faces two charges, for writing the threats and possession of an unregistered firearm and ammunition, according to court documents.
Prosecutors noted in the hearing on Thursday that they believed Meredith was a follower of QAnon and that he had headbutted another person in Washington last week in a road rage incident.
Harvey rejected arguments that Meredith couldn't legally be held or that he could be released and monitored and wouldn't be a danger.
Warnings and security planning continue
New York Police Department Deputy Commissioner John Miller warned on a teleconference call Thursday that the temperature is high, as it pertains to the intelligence surrounding the inauguration. There are no credible threats to New York City, Miller said.
"Nothing compares to any past threats; we have never had Americans fighting Americans on the streets of the nation's capital, probably since the Civil War," Miller said.
Miller said that the rioters had been successful in getting into the Capitol indicates it was a "significant milestone" for the movement.
But he went on to say there's indication that the arrests made across the country may have hampered that movement.
A recurring theme in the descriptions of allegations against federal defendants has been how many willfully surrendered to law enforcement after being identified as part of the melee and spoke to authorities about taking part.
One man arrested on Thursday in Alabama, Joshua Matthew Black, for instance, spoke about spilling blood on the Senate floor in the name of Jesus -- while he himself was bleeding from the cheek, according to his criminal charging documents and images of him from that day and afterward.
Speaking to the FBI later, he told them he had accomplished his goal.
Wray, the FBI director, said in a inauguration security briefing at FEMA on Thursday that the bureau was monitoring all incoming leads, from calls for armed protests to other threats growing out of January 6.
He noted the FBI has some "confidence" in its preparation and security for the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden next week.