A Delaware man photographed carrying a Confederate battle flag during a deadly riot at the US Capitol was arrested Thursday after authorities used the image to help identify him, federal prosecutors said.
The director of the FBI, meanwhile, warned Vice President Mike Pence of “online chatter” prompting concerns of fresh violence surrounding next week’s inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.
A news release from the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia said that Kevin Seefried, who was seen carrying the flag, was arrested in Delaware along with his son, Hunter Seefried.
Prosecutors said both entered the Senate Building through a broken window before Kevin Seefried was seen carrying around the Confederate flag in photos that caught attention from news outlets and social media.
Both were charged with unlawfully entering a restricted building, violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds and degradation of government property.
They were part of a larger group that verbally confronted members of the Capitol police over a 15-minute span and were documented on surveillance video, according to court documents written by an FBI special agent.
The men were identified after the FBI was told by a coworker of Hunter Seefried that he had bragged about being in the Capitol with his father, court documents say. The FBI agent wrote that authorities compared Kevin Seefried’s driver’s license photo to images of him carrying the flag during the riot to confirm his identity.
They both spoke voluntarily to the FBI on Tuesday and admitted they had been present at the riot, according to court documents.
“Kevin Seefried also explained that he brought the Confederate Battle flag seen in Exhibit A to the District of Columbia from his home in Delaware where it is usually displayed outside,” the agent wrote.
Information on whether the men have attorneys who can speak for them couldn’t immediately be found in electronic court records. A phone listing for the two men in Delaware rang unanswered Thursday afternoon.
FBI Director Christopher Wray said Thursday in his first public comments since the January 6 riot that the agency was tracking an “extensive amount of concerning online chatter,” including calls for armed protests leading up to next week’s presidential inauguration.
Wray said in a security briefing for Pence that the FBI remains concerned about the potential for violence at protests and rallies in Washington and in state capitols around the country.
Those events could bring armed individuals near government buildings and elected officials, Wray warned, while also noting, “One of the real challenges in this space is trying to distinguish what’s aspirational versus what’s intentional.”
Wray said the FBI was receiving a “significant” amount of information that it was pushing out to other law enforcement agencies ahead of the inauguration. Information-sharing is critical before any significant public event like the inauguration, but the issue is receiving particular scrutiny because of signs law enforcement was unprepared for the violent, deadly surge at the Capitol by loyalists of US President Donald Trump.
Federal officials have warned local law enforcement agencies that the riot at the Capitol is likely to inspire others with violent intentions.
“We’re looking at individuals who may have an eye towards repeating that same kind of violence that we saw last week,” Wray said, adding that since January 6, the FBI has identified over 200 suspects.
“We know who you are. If you’re out there, an FBI agent is coming to find you,” he added.
More than 100 people have been arrested so far, Wray said, and there are “countless” other investigations.
Trump’s supporters stormed the US Capitol building last week after a rally the president held to repeat baseless election grievances. Five people died during the siege, including a Capitol police officer, a woman shot by police and three people who had medical emergencies.
US officials said Thursday that Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy approved bringing in 21,000 National Guard members to Washington, DC, to assist with security surrounding the inauguration of Biden next week.