FBI arrests first Capitol rioter to breach tunnel where melee broke out on Jan. 6

WASHINGTON — More than two-and-a-half years after the Jan. 6 attack, the FBI has arrested the first man to enter the tunnel on the lower west terrace, the site of some of the most brutal incidents during the U.S. Capitol siege.

Brett Rena Rotella, a resident of North Carolina, was arrested on Tuesday and will make his first court appearance in North Carolina on Wednesday. Rotella, who was identified by online “Sedition Hunters” in early 2021, was known by the nickname #SleevelessRedTattoos, and was notable because he was wearing shorts even though the temperature was in the 40s that day. He faces felony charges of obstruction of law enforcement during civil disorder and assaulting, resisting, or impeding certain officers, in addition to misdemeanor charges.

Video shows that Rotella was the first rioter to breach the tunnel that day. As police officers retreated inside the Capitol after being overwhelmed by the mob on the inauguration stage, at least one officer fired pepper balls at Rotella to stop his advance. Rotella, wearing a red Trump beanie and carrying a flagpole, turns his back and continues advancing toward police. Within twenty seconds, dozens of people flood into the tunnel, setting off a fight that takes place for hours.

An FBI affidavit says that Rotella helped lead the mob chasing police towards the building and took part in a “heave ho” effort with other rioters. Federal law enforcement observed Rotella at his home in July after receiving tips about his identity, the affidavit said. After snapping photos of him inside an Aldi store, they reviewed Rotella’s tattoos and confirmed his identity.

The FBI has arrested about 1,100 people in connection with the Capitol attack, and online sleuths have identified hundreds of additional rioters who have not yet been arrested. The statute of limitations on most of the crimes committed at the Capitol expires five years after the incident in early 2026.

Earlier this month, the FBI arrested an amateur St. Louis Cardinals mascot known as Rally Runner. A guest on Tucker Carlson’s old Fox News show had told the audience that Runner was “clearly a law enforcement officer,” an “agent provocateur” meant to make Trump supporters look bad.

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com

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