Federal authorities charged a 31-year-old Minnesota man Friday with breaking into the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, one of the latest arrests in a major federal investigation into those responsible for the violent insurrection in Washington.
Jordan K. Stotts, of Moorhead, is the first Minnesotan to face charges following the riots, which left five dead, including a Capitol police officer. Stotts was arrested on charges of trespassing and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, both federal misdemeanors, by agents from the FBI's Minneapolis field office. He made his first court appearance on Friday.
He's among more than 300 people charged since the insurrection, and at least 100 more are expected to be charged. The U.S. district attorney in Washington is prosecuting the case against Stotts and all others related to the storming of the Capitol.
According to the criminal complaint, a former classmate of Stotts tipped off the FBI after noticing several social media posts indicating he was at the Capitol for the riot. One post under Stotts' name described the "story of the siege."
"It all started by scaling a wall as we broke into the U.S. Capital [sic] to strike fear into the sold out Congress. We were tear gassed and 2 people were shot. We were peaceful but the police were not. Police were aggressive and on the wrong side!" Stotts wrote on his Facebook page, according to the complaint. "They got us out but it's far from over! 1776!"
Once inside, Stotts took a 360-degree video of the Capitol rotunda and took photos from the Capitol steps and posted them to his Facebook account with the caption: "Patriots! I got kicked out but I'll be back!" the complaint states. Around Jan. 8, a post appeared under Stotts' name that said: "Peace Out Facebook! Apparently I'm a wanted man and will be going off the grid for a while!"
The FBI contacted Stotts after the riot and he voluntarily agreed to be interviewed. He told agents he works in nurseries and greenhouses during the summer and travels in his van during the winter. In January, he decided to drive alone to Washington, D.C., to attend a rally for Donald Trump after the president encouraged his supporters to make their voices heard as Congress certified the Electoral College vote.
Stotts said that he attended Trump's rally on Jan. 6 near the White House before marching to the Capitol, according to the complaint, admitting that he later climbed onto a balcony and chanted with the crowd.
The Moorhead man said he entered through a door to the left of the main Capitol entrance and walked to the rotunda area. He says he stayed inside for approximately one hour.
Law enforcement officials reviewed riot video provided by U.S. Capitol Police, which the complaint says verifies that Stotts entered the building and took cellphone videos and interacted with other rioters.
Stotts' arrest and charging is part of one of the most complex investigations in the history of the Department of Justice. FBI Director Christopher Wray told members of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee in early March that the riot at the Capitol was "domestic terrorism," warning that homegrown violent extremism is growing.
Wray testified that the crowd in Washington ranged from protesters who did not break any laws to a smaller group that arrived determined to commit violence and disrupt Congress.
Four men described as leaders of the far-right Proud Boys have also been charged. The indictment, ordered unsealed on Friday, presents fresh evidence of how federal officials believe members of the neo-fascist Proud Boys group planned and carried out a coordinated attack to stop Congress from certifying President Joe Biden's electoral victory.
So far, at least 19 leaders, members or associates of the Proud Boys have been charged in federal court with offenses related to the Jan. 6 riot. The latest indictment suggests the Proud Boys deployed a much larger contingent in Washington, with over 60 users participating in an encrypted messaging channel for group members that was created a day before the riot.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Briana Bierschbach • 651-925-5042